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Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq.

Byline: BY LIAM CHRISTOPHER Daily Post Correspondent

TWO Algerian diplomats and their driver were dragged from their car by gunmen yesterday in Baghdad in the latest abductions apparently aimed at scaring off Muslim governments supporting the USbacked Iraqi administration.

Gunmen in two cars stopped the vehicle carrying charge d'affaires Ali Belaroussi and another diplomat near the al-Sa'a restaurant in the exclusive Mansour district, which is home to many embassies, and dragged the men from their car, police officials said.

Algeria's Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the abduction, saying Belaroussi and diplomat Azzedine Belkadi had been kidnapped between the Algerian embassy and the embassy residence in Baghdad.

The ministry said it had contacted the men's families and was following developments closely. It is the first abduction of Algerians in Iraq.

The attack came just over two weeks after gunmen ambushed three other top diplomats from Muslim countries in western Baghdad, all in apparent bids to scare off foreign governments and isolate Iraq from the Arab world.

Insurgents claimed to have killed one, the Egyptian top envoy, earlier this month, while Bahrain's top envoy was slightly wounded and Pakistan's ambassador escaped injury.

Insurgent attacks elsewhere, including two suicide bombings aimed at the Iraqi army, killed at least 15 people, officials said.

Also yesterday, a US sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force died of wounds from a July 15 bombing in Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.

At least 1,773 members of the US military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

In political developments, Sunni Arabs decided to continue boycotting the committee drafting Iraq's new constitution, casting doubt on whether the group can meet amid-August deadline to complete its work.

Kamal Hamdoun, one of the12 remaining Sunnis appointed to the constitutional commission last month, said the minority would continue its boycott pending an international investigation into the assassinations of two colleagues on Tuesday and until other demands are met.

Even if the Shiite and Kurdish committee members decided to try to meet the August 15 deadline without Sunni participation, questions would be raised over the legitimacy of a charter and whether it would win Sunni approval in an October referendum.

Fifteen Sunnis were appointed to the parliamentary committee last month in a move to lure many in the influential minority away from the insurgency Two members resigned under rebel threats, and two prominent Sunnis were assassinated two days ago - prompting other Sunnis to suspend participation in the drafting process
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 22, 2005
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