Friday, March 02, 2007

18 Iraqi security ministry employees kidnapped, 14 found dead

The group had threatened to kill the hostages within 24 hours if the Iraqi government did not hand over officers accused in the rape case, and release all Sunni women held in Iraqi prisons. The claim surfaced on the Web early Friday, but it was unclear when the 24 hours began.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An al-Qaida-linked Sunni group said Friday that it kidnapped 18 government workers and soldiers in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by members of the Shiite-dominated police force. Hours later, the government said the bodies of 14 security officers had been found.

The Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni group linked to al-Qaida, posted a statement on the Internet earlier Friday saying 18 men were kidnapped in retaliation for the alleged rape. Photos accompanied the claim, showing up to 18 blindfolded men. Seven were wearing Iraqi military uniforms, and all had their hands tied behind their backs.

Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said the 14 bodies were found Friday afternoon in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. He blamed al-Qaida for the killings and said Iraqi authorities would "chase those who assassinated these unarmed people."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

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