A Russian Embassy official in Baghdad said Saturday that one diplomat was killed and four diplomatic employees were abducted in the Iraqi capital.
"Yes, I can confirm this. One diplomat killed, four employees kidnapped. That's all I can say. No commentary," the official, contacted by telephone from Moscow, told The Associated Press. He refused to give his name or provide any further details.
Police in Baghdad said witnesses at the scene told them that gunmen opened fire on a car that belonged to the Russians in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district.
Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohamedawi said one person was killed in the incident.
In other recent developments:
Iraqi police on Saturday found eight severed heads north of Baghdad with a note indicating at least one of the men were killed in retaliation for the slaying of four Shiite doctors, authorities said.
Five of the slain men were security guards at a hospital complex in the capital who had been arrested by Iraqi police on Thursday, Lt. Col. Adil Al-Zihari of the Diyala police said.
Notes found with the heads near a highway in the Hadid village near the volatile city of Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, said one of those killed was Abdul Aziz al-Sheik Hamad and accused him of killing four Shiite doctors and a former governor during the administrator of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
The heads were transferred in fruit boxes to the morgue in Baqouba, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite town that has recently seen an increase in sectarian violence.
Gunmen also ambushed a police checkpoint in the city on Saturday, killing seven policemen and wounding five pedestrians, police said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, held last-minute negotiations with Sunni and Shiite leaders on the eve of his planned announcement of names for the interior and defense ministers, two weeks after his government of national unity took office.
Al-Maliki promised earlier this week to fill the posts on Sunday, despite failing to reach an agreement on candidates with ethnic and sectarian parties.
The appointments are considered key to his plan to take over the security of Iraq within 18 months, a move that could pave the way for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The defense and interior minister posts have been temporarily held by al-Maliki and one of his deputy prime ministers since the Cabinet was sworn in May 20. The Interior Ministry post will go to a Shiite. Sunni Arabs have complained that many Shiite candidates had ties to militias.
Al-Maliki told visiting U.S. congressmen on Friday that "we are keen to march in the correct direction to confront these challenges despite the difficulties."
U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told al-Maliki that "an important next step is for the Iraqi government to seek national reconciliation in order to end the insurgency and disband the sectarian militias."
Al-Maliki also said that his government was working on a plan to restore security to Ramadi, capital of Anbar province. He said Iraqi forces would work with U.S. troops.
"There is a joint plan between the Iraqi forces and the coalition forces, in addition to the local (Sunni Arab) tribes, to help us bring stability to the city," al-Maliki said of Ramadi.
A U.S. military spokesman said this week that American forces are "very concerned" about the situation in Ramadi because al Qaeda in Iraq is taking advantage of sectarian differences to make inroads in the city west of Baghdad.
Maj. Gen. William Caldwell confirmed earlier that about 1,500 combat troops have been moved from Kuwait to Anbar province to help establish order. He described the deployment as short-term to ensure continuity during summer rotations and said the focus was on quelling the al Qaeda presence in the area to keeping foreign fighters from crossing over from Syria, which borders Anbar.