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Insurgents Target Arab Diplomats in Iraq

Pakistan’s ambassador also escaped an assault on his convoy Tuesday.

The attacks appear to be aimed at discouraging Islamic countries from bolstering ties with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

“The aim is clear, just to create a state of fear,” Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kubba told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

Al-Sherif, Egypt’s first ambassador to Iraq since the March 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein, was seized Saturday after he stopped to buy a newspaper. Seven gunmen dragged al-Sherif into a car and accused him of being an American spy, Agence France-Presse cited witnesses as saying.

U.S. and Iraqi security forces raided areas of western Baghdad where the kidnapping took place. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, reported Bloomberg News.

Egypt called on al-Sherif’s abductors to treat him with the respect he deserves, reported Egypt’s official news service, the Middle East News Agency.

Egypt announced last month that it would become the first Arab nation to post an ambassador in Iraq since the 2003 fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini diplomat, Hassan Malallah al-Ansari, was shot in the shoulder on his way to work in the Mansour district of western Baghdad, said Dr. Muhanad Jaead of Yarmouk Hospital.

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

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it has decided to relocate Khan from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, until the security situation in Iraq improves, reported Reuters.

In other violence Tuesday, two suicide car bombers wounded four U.S. Marines in the western town of Hit, a U.S. spokeswoman said.

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

The officials also said a roadside bomb blast and ensuing firefight killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded seven others in the Abu Ghraib district outside Baghdad.

A mortar attack in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, missed a U.S. military base and struck the central part of town, killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring four civilians, police said.

Another mortar strike in an area just north of Ramadi killed two sisters, ages 20 and 30, doctors said. It was not known who fired the mortar, according to the AP.

More than 1,400 people have been killed in insurgent attacks since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his new government on April 28.

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