Envoy wounded as insurgents target diplomats

Sinan Salahedin, Baghdad

The attacks came three days after gunmen seized Egypt’s top envoy to Iraq in the capital, appearing to signal an insurgent campaign to discourage Islamic countries from bolstering ties with the US-backed Iraqi government.

The Bahraini diplomat, Hassan Malallah al-Ansari, was shot on his way to work in Baghdad. He was treated in hospital for a shoulder wound and released.

“There was an attempt to kidnap him by gunmen when he was on his way from his house to the Bahrain mission in Baghdad,” said Bahrain Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Yousef Mahmoud.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Mohammed Younis Khan said gunmen opened fire on his convoy as he was on his way home from work in the same neighbourhood, but he wasn’t wounded.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said it has asked Khan to leave country temporarily after the attack. There was still no word on the fate of the kidnapped Egyptian envoy, Ihab al-Sherif, 51.

Witnesses said the abductors accosted him Saturday night in western Baghdad and shoved him into the trunk of a car after pistol-whipping him. They accused him of being an American spy.

In other violence yesterday, two suicide car bombers wounded four US Marines in the western town of Hit, three days after military commanders announced that an Iraqi army battalion backed by Marines would be stationed in the town.

Gunmen ambushed a minibus taking seven Baghdad airport employees to work, killing four women and wounding three men.

A roadside bomb blast and a subsequent firefight killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded seven others on Baghdad’s outskirts in the Abu Ghraib district.

A mortar attack, meanwhile, missed a US military base and struck central Samarra, killing a 13-year-old girl and wounding four civilians, police said. The city is 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Another mortar attack killed two sisters, ages 20 and 30, in an area just north of Ramadi, the capital of the volatile western Anbar province. It was not known who fired the mortar.

Elsewhere, US and Iraqi forces clashed with insurgents in a Ramadi neighbourhood.

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