Saturday, July 15, 2006

Head of Iraqi Olympic Committee Kidnapped [J. Mark English]

South African Broadcasting Corporation --

Gunmen kidnapped about 30 Iraqi sports officials, including the head of the national Olympic committee, as they met in Baghdad today, just hours after parliament voted to extend a state of emergency.
The attack came despite a crackdown by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad. The government of Nuri al-Maliki', the Shi'ite prime minister, is struggling to get a grip on worsening violence in the capital, particularly sectarian bloodshed.
Later in the day, a series of bomb blasts in a commercial area of the southern Saidiya district killed seven people and wounded 12, police said. Both Sunnis and Shi'ites live locally.
Gunmen wore Iraqi security force uniforms...
Police and interior ministry sources said gunmen wearing blue camouflage interior ministry uniforms stormed a hall in central Baghdad at about 2pm and killed a bodyguard of Ahmed al-Hadjiya, the Olympic committee chief.
Hadjiya and about 20 bodyguards, along with at least eight committee officials and the hall's guards, were then bundled into a convoy of vehicles and driven off, making a total of about 50 people, police sources said.
Police said the body of a second bodyguard was found dumped in Street 52 in the central Karrada district, not far from the meeting hall. He had been shot in the head. The hall's security guards were later found unharmed, leaving about 30 abducted.