Abducted Diplo Shunned Bodyguards

Iraqi soldier CPT. Wsam Abdul Wahab, 24, receives treatment for his wounds after his wedding party was attacked by unknown gunmen killing his wife Saly Salam, 22, and wounding two others, Friday, July 22, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. AP

A top Algerian diplomat who preferred traveling without bodyguards to highlight his country's good relations with Iraqis was dragged from his car by gunmen and abducted along with a colleague and his driver, Iraqi officials said.

Meanwhile, efforts to draft a new constitution by an Aug. 15 deadline suffered a setback Thursday when Sunni Arab committee members announced they would not participate until the government accepts demands that one Shiite official said are impossible to meet.

Thursday's kidnappings brought to five the number of key diplomats from Islamic countries targeted in Baghdad in less than three weeks in an attempt to undermine the U.S.-supported Iraqi government.

The top Egyptian envoy was reportedly killed after being kidnapped July 2 after stopping to buy a newspaper in west Baghdad, also without security. A few days later, kidnap attempts against two other Muslim diplomats failed.

The chief of Algeria's mission in Iraq, charge d'affaires Ali Belaroussi, 62, and another Algerian diplomat, Azzedine Belkadi, 47, were abducted along with their driver in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district, police and Algerian officials said.

In other developments:

  • Gunmen in Baghdad fired on a car carrying Czech police officers who provide security for Czech diplomats, officials said Friday. The Thursday morning attack came as the vehicle was on its way from Baghdad airport, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman Radka Kovarova said. The policemen returned fire and the attackers fled the scene. No injuries were reported.

  • Assailants shot dead three policemen in the eastern Mashtal district in Baghdad Friday as they were directing traffic. In two other attacks on police patrols in eastern Baghdad, three police officers were killed and three others injured.

  • Gunmen fired on a car carrying a newlywed couple and their families, killing the bride and her mother and wounding the groom, in the southern Dora neighborhood, according to police and medical officials.

  • U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed Friday with militants in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, leaving four dead, police said. One Iraqi soldier, along with three civilians, were killed, and 11 others injured.

  • Two bullet-riddled bodies were found early Friday near Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, police said.

    By Friday, no claim of responsibility had surfaced, Algerian authorities said. They expressed surprise over why the Algerians were captured, saying Algiers has steadfastly refused to take part in the U.S.-led coalition.

    A fellow diplomat, Abdelwahab Felahi, told Algerian radio that he was in another car when he saw their brake lights flash and knew there was a problem.

    "I wasn't armed, and I couldn't intervene, and in the time it took to warn police in front of the embassy, the kidnappers, diplomats and their vehicle had disappeared," said Felahi, adding he had been scheduled to meet Belaroussi for lunch a half-hour after the time of the kidnapping.
    • Joel Roberts

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