Hostages released in Baghdad

 

A number of people seized at an Iraqi Olympic Committee meeting in Baghdad yesterday were released today.

Six hostages were left blindfolded and unharmed in the capital's Baladiyat neighborhood, Iraq's Sport Journalist Union said.

There was no word on 26 other hostages kidnapped yesterday, including the Olympic National Committee chairman, Ahmed al-Hijiya.

A former member of Iraq's Olympic committee, Nashat Mahir al-Salman, 75, was the first abductee dropped in the neighborhood, followed hours later by Baghdad soccer coach Ahmed Subhi and four security guards, the sports union said.

The victims were seized yesterday in a daylight attack in the heart of Baghdad. Gunmen blindfolded and handcuffed participants and bodyguards, hustled them into about a dozen vehicles and sped away. The bodies of two bodyguards were found dumped on a street.

The International Olympic Committee in Geneva condemned "these acts against the sport community" and called for the immediate release of the hostages.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, a bomb hidden in a rubbish bag exploded in a commercial area of the Karradah district, killing four people and wounding 21 others, police said.

One person was killed and two were wounded when a bomb exploded near a police patrol in north Baghdad, police said.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, two barbers were killed in a drive-by shooting, police said. Drive-by shootings killed one person in Mosul and another in Muqdadiyah, northeast of the capital.

A British soldier was killed during an operation in Basra province to capture "those associated with terrorist activities," the British Defence Ministry said. It was the first British death by hostile fire in seven weeks. Another soldier was wounded.

Two suspects were arrested after the exchange of fire.

AP

Britain has about 7,200 troops in southern Iraq, and its military has reported 114 deaths in the country since the war began in 2003.