Gunmen kidnap Iraq's Olympic chief
Updated: 2006-07-15 19:37
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen kidnapped the head of Iraq's Olympic committee
and at least 30 employees Saturday after storming a meeting of sports officials
just days after the coach of Iraq's national wrestling team was killed.
The gunmen were riding in three government vehicles and wearing police
uniforms when they broke into a cultural center in central Baghdad, police Lt.
Thaer Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud said Ahmed al-Hijiya, president of the committee,
was taken around 1:30 p.m. along with other employees as they attended a
conference in Karradah, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.
A boy cries after his
father was among soldiers killed at an army checkpoint in Kirkuk, about
250 km (150 miles) north of Baghdad, July 14, 2006. Gunmen ambushed an
Iraqi army checkpoint in northern Iraq on Friday, killing 12 soldiers and
wounding one, in one of the deadliest single attacks in months against the
U.S.-trained Iraqi forces. [Reuters]
Others seized included the deputy head of the Olympic committee, Ammar
Jabbar al-Saadi; the chairman of the Taekwondo Federation, Jamal Abdul-Karim;
and the chief of the Boxing Federation, Union Bashar Mustafa.
director of sports medicine, Dr. Faleh Francis, was originally reported to be
among those kidnapped, but state-run television later said he was not part of
Security guards outside the meeting did not interfere because
they thought the kidnappers were legitimate law enforcement, police said.
The kidnappings of Iraq's Olympic officials comes a day after Iraq's
national wrestling team pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates
when its coach was killed in Baghdad.
The Sunni coach, Mohammed Karim
Abid Sahib, was seized with one of his wrestlers as they left the sports center
to buy some sweets in the northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah, where the team was
preparing for the tournament.
He was shot to death while trying to
escape; the other wrestler got away, according to police and wrestling
Elsewhere in Baghdad on Saturday, clashes broke out between
Iraqi soldiers and gunmen in several areas of the city, leaving at least three
people dead and 11 others wounded, police said.
Seven people were
injured in a mortar attack near Haifa Street in downtown Baghdad, just blocks
from the Green Zone which houses U.S. and British embassies and the Iraqi
government. All were hospitalized, police 1st. Lt. Muhammad Khayoun said.
Similar clashes also broke out blocks away in the capitol, injuring four
and killing two civilians. U.S. troops rushed to seal the area after the
attacks, said Iraqi Army Maj. Salman Abdul-Wahid.
The area along Haifa
Street has seen heavy violence in recent weeks, which prompted Iraqi leaders to
declare a state of emergency in Baghdad after erratic violence erupted there
nearly a month ago.
Also Saturday, Iraq's parliament voted to extend the
state of emergency for 30 days, a measure that has been in place for almost two
The violence comes as the conflict between Israel and Lebanon
escalates, which has been condemned by Iraqi leaders who are fearful
ramifications could be felt throughout the region.
Thousands of Iraqis
also demonstrated in the Shiite district of Sadr City in Baghdad and the
southeastern cities of Kut and Amarah, praising the leaders of Hezbollah and
denouncing Israel and the United States.
In other violence Saturday:
- Gunmen attacked a truck carrying sheep on a highway in western
Baghdad, killing the driver, police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq
- Provincial police in Ramadi on Saturday also confirmed that
a day earlier gunmen had killed a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party.
Gunmen open fire on minivan in southeastern Baghdad, killing five
- A bomb exploded at an Internet cafe in Kirkuk in northern
Bomb, killing one.
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