Gunmen kill Russian diplomat in Baghdad
By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 32 minutes ago
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gunmen attacked a car belonging to the Russian Embassy in
Baghdad on Saturday, killing one diplomat and kidnapping four employees,
police and the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
In a statement issued in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said assailants
attacked a diplomatic car carrying "workers of the Russian foreign service who
were performing their official duties," killing one person and abducting four.
The attack occurred at about 1:45 p.m.
The statement said authorities were working with Iraqi and international
authorities to secure the hostages' release. The statement did not give the
names or the positions of the people killed or abducted.
According to police, witnesses at the scene said gunmen opened fire on the car
in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district. Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah
al-Mohamedawi said one person was killed in the incident, which took place
just outside the embassy.
AP Television News footage showed a white SUV with tinted windows, diplomatic
licenses plates and a small tag that said "Russian Embassy" in English and
Arabic. The sign had a bullet hole in it.
An ambulance was seen driving into the embassy.
There was no immediate comment from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
An official at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad confirmed the attack.
"Yes, I can confirm this. One diplomat killed, four employees kidnapped.
That's all I can say. No commentary," the official told The Associated Press
in Moscow. He refused to give his name or elaborate.
At least 439 foreigners have been kidnapped in
Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago, according to figures
provided earlier this month by a special U.S. anti-kidnapping task force.
Diplomats have been the targets of abductions previously.
In May 2004, gunmen ambushed Russian electrical engineers at Musayyib,
kidnapping two and killing one. The two hostages were released.
That same month, rebels also ambushed Russian technicians heading to a Baghdad
power plant, killing two and an Iraqi. The violence prompted Moscow-based
Interenergoservis to pull out its 241 employees.
Russia opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has not contributed any
troops but maintains a diplomatic presence.
The most recent attack on diplomats occurred last month, when a United Arab
Emirates diplomat was seized by gunmen in Mansour and held for more than two
weeks before being released late last month.
In July, two Algerian diplomats and an Egyptian colleague were kidnapped and
killed in separate incidents.
In October, two Moroccan Embassy workers were abducted and killed. The
insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for all the
Associated Press reporters Sinan Salaheddin and Kim Gamel in Baghdad, and Mike
Eckel in Moscow contributed to this report.