Iranian diplomat kidnapped by men with Iraqi defense ministry IDs

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

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Jalal Sharafi, An Iranian diplomat has been kidnapped by men wearing Iraqi army uniforms who also had official Iraqi defense ministry ID badges. The abduction took place outside the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli in Baghdad.

Several men who were also in possession of official ID badges for the Iraqi Defense Ministry were captured by Iraqi Security Forces after a small gun battle, BBC News reports. The car which was carrying the abducted diplomat was not caught.

According to an unnamed Iraqi official, the ID badges were in fact "authentic," but it was not known if the men were released from the ministry or the army. The uniforms appeared to be from the Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion, which is under the direction of the U.S. military.

Iran called the abduction a "terrorist act" and accuses the U.S. of being directly involved with the abduction and has arrested several Iraqis.

"Based on reliable information, the group which has committed this completely terrorist act, are active under the supervision of the American forces and some of them have been arrested. There is a record of their previous acts," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini who also said that the U.S. will be directly responsible for the life of the diplomat.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the American forces in Iraq responsible for the life and safety of the Iranian diplomat and condemns this action strongly and wants the quick release of the Iranian diplomat," added Hosseini.

No comment has been released by the U.S. military, but they deny any involvement in the abduction and cannot confirm the diplomat has been abducted.

Last month US forces detained five Iranians working for an informal consulate in northern Iraq. Iranian diplomat Faridoun Jihani was 2004 detained south of Baghdad by a Sunni group.

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