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Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Baghdad



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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two Algerian diplomats were abducted Thursday afternoon outside a restaurant in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood, a police source said.

The diplomats were identified as Algeria's charge d'affaires, Ali Bali'roosi, and Izzildin Menfadi.

Police said the abductors pulled up behind the restaurant in two cars, a blue Volkswagen Vento and a white Daewoo, and grabbed the diplomats. The diplomats had an unknown number of guards.

The diplomats' Toyota Land Cruiser was left behind and claimed later by Algerian Embassy staff.

The Mansour district is home to a number of Arab embassies.

Earlier this month, the top Egyptian envoy in Baghdad was kidnapped and killed. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the group linked to terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the killing of the Egyptian, Ihab el-Sherif. (Full story)

Also this month, insurgents attacked Bahrain's charge d'affaires and Pakistan's ambassador. The Bahrain official was injured slightly; the Pakistani was unharmed.

Algeria, like Egypt, is an Islamic North African country that is part of the Arab world.

After those incidents, Iraq's Foreign Ministry said insurgents were attacking diplomats to target "the ongoing political process in Iraq and its international and diplomatic network."

"The ministry knows that these acts take place after the declaration of many Arab and Islamic countries to upgrade their diplomatic representation in Iraq and send their ambassadors to Baghdad, in order to impede this step and raise fears of these countries."

8 dead in Baghdad-area strikes

Elsewhere in the Baghdad area, insurgents killed eight people and wounded 16 Thursday morning in separate attacks. Five of the dead were Iraqi soldiers.

Gunmen killed three members of the Iraqi Reconstruction Committee of Qadisiya province at about 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) in a drive-by shooting in the al-Jamiaa neighborhood in western Baghdad.

A suicide car bomb detonated about an hour later at an Iraqi army checkpoint in southern Baghdad, wounding eight soldiers, police said.

Another suicide car bomb killed five Iraqi soldiers and wounded eight at a checkpoint in al-Mahmudiya, about 25 miles south of the capital.

Other developments

  • Residents of the troubled city of Tal Afar are fleeing in fear of an imminent attack by American and Iraqi forces against insurgents still in the city, according to a senior military commander. U.S. soldiers are building a wall around the city to keep out fighters and weapons (Full story)
  • A U.S. sailor died Thursday of wounds suffered last Friday in an improvised explosive device attack during combat in western Iraq, the Marines said. The sailor was assigned to Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). This brings the number of U.S. deaths in the war to 1,769.
  • Insurgents using machine guns ambushed an Iraqi police patrol moving toward western Mosul on Wednesday afternoon, killing seven officers and wounding one. In a separate attack, gunmen attacked an Iraqi police lieutenant colonel's vehicle in Mosul, killing the driver and wounding the officer.
  • A car bomb exploded Wednesday in the town of al-Latifiya, near Hilla, targeting a minibus carrying Baghdad-based Iraqi soldiers who were headed to Hilla for vacation and wearing civilian clothes. Three soldiers were killed and three others were wounded, police said. Another car bomb exploded outside and Iraqi soldier's home in southern Hilla, killing his wife and wounding his daughter.
  • In Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives blew himself up outside an Iraqi army recruitment center on Wednesday, killing at least eight people and wounding 28, police said.
  • The Iraqi government on Wednesday observed three minutes of silence to mourn last week's suicide bombing in Musayyib and one in Baghdad that killed almost 30 people, most of whom were children. (Full story)
  • In an attempt to crack down on insurgent violence, Iraqi police said they conducted a raid Wednesday in Babil province in the same area where a suicide blast killed more than 90 people last week. Authorities said they killed two insurgents, detained one man and confiscated a gasoline tanker rigged with explosives in a suburb of Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad. (Full story)
  • CNN's Cal Perry, Enes Dulami and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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