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Iraq gunmen kidnap blind coach, official
Cat : War Against Iraq
Date : 2006-11-02 14:00:52                      Reader : 251
repeats what Bush says that they will not leave Iraq till the job is finished. We simply demand killing more than 200000 Iraqis, is not enough for finishing the job? What is exactly the job they mean?! Is it the oil and the military bases ?!

 

Google News 2/11/2006

Iraq gunmen kidnap blind coach, official

 

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Gunmen abducted a top Iraqi basketball official and a blind athletic coach, both Sunnis, on Wednesday, a day after U.S. and Iraqi forces lifted a blockade on Baghdad's Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

The attack took place at a youth club on relatively prosperous Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad near the Sadr City district, which is controlled by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The militia has been linked to scores of abductions and torture killings of Sunnis.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered military roadblocks dismantled Tuesday around the sprawling slum of 2.5 million. Al-Maliki acted under pressure from al-Sadr, whose political faction is a key part of the governing coalition.

Athletes and sports officials have increasingly become targets of threats, kidnappings and assassination attempts, with an Iraqi international soccer referee seized just last month as he left the soccer association's offices. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a $200,000 ransom.

Wednesday's attack on the coaches began when men in four SUVs drove up to the youth club, said police Lt. Ali Mohsin. They seized basketball federation chief Khalid Nejim, who also was a coach for the national basketball team, and Issam Khalef, who coached blind athletes.

While Nejim, 50, resisted the abductors, Khalef, who is blind and also serves as the captain for his goalball team, went with his captors quietly, said Qahtan al-Namei, chief of Iraq's Paralympics Federation.

Twelve people were in the club at the time _ the coaches, seven blind players, a guard who was quickly disarmed, an assistant and a driver, al-Namei said.

He said it appeared only the coaches were taken because they were Sunnis, while the rest were Shiites. He said the kidnappers, who carried automatic weapons and wore no masks, had not demanded a ransom or otherwise contacted the federation.

"There is a distinct possibility that this was simply an act of violence targeting Iraqi sports," al-Namei said.

Despite the abductions, al-Namei said the team was determined to participate in a tournament for disabled athletes in Malaysia this month. Goalball is played by blind or visually impaired athletes using a ball that has bells inside that is thrown toward goals on a court.

Throughout the country at least 23 people were killed Wednesday. And north of Baghdad, which has become the main battlefield in Iraq's relentless sectarian struggle, police searched for 40 Shiites seized Tuesday on a dangerous stretch of road in a region with a mixed Shiite-Sunni population.

A witness said the Shiites were taken away by men near the town of Tarmiyah, where cars were slowed by backed-up traffic. Unarmed men, he said, went along the row of vehicles demanding to see identification cards as armed men stood nearby, just out of sight of U.S. soldiers who were disarming a roadside bomb.

The witness, who asked to be identified only by the pseudonym Abu Omar for fear of reprisals, said the men appeared to be picking out specific people, but allowed him and other Sunni travelers to proceed.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said American forces had been disarming roadside bombs near Tarmiyah at the time, but received no reports of abductions.

There is deep frustration within the Iraqi government over the failure to tackle the daily kidnappings, killings and political violence.

On Wednesday, a fight broke out between Sunni politicians in parliament, where Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani accused other Sunni lawmakers of corruption and of stalling ratification of a religious edict intended to end sectarian clashes.

Al-Mashhadani was holding a news conference to condemn lawmakers for failing to show up for a vote when he suddenly shouted at a rival lawmaker in the audience, Abdel-Karim al-Samarie, a member of the main Sunni parliamentary bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front.

"You did not attend (parliament) because of your corrupt political affiliation," al-Mashhadani screamed, adding: "You are dishonest and a dog" _ a deep insult in Iraq and other Arab societies.

Al-Samarie responded by calling al-Mashhadani a false patriot. The speaker, who belongs to a rival Sunni group _ The National Dialogue Council _ lunged at al-Samarie and tried to punch him, but was held back by bodyguards.

Elsewhere in the capital, a roadside bomb exploded on Iraq's most heavily guarded Tigris River bridge, seriously wounding Judge Naeim al-Equeli, a Shiite who was the top jurist for courts in western Baghdad. Two people in his convoy were killed and two others were wounded.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of two service members on Tuesday in Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold.

A total of 105 American service members died in Iraq in October, the fourth deadliest month since the Iraq war began in March 2003. There have been only three months in which more U.S. forces died in Iraq: 107 in January 2005; at least 135 in April 2004, and 137 in November 2004.


 
 
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