Iraqi Gunmen Seize Iranian Diplomat
diplomat as he drove through central
condemned the abduction and blamed
One Iraqi government official also said the diplomat was detained Sunday by
a special Iraqi army unit that reports directly to the
military spokesman denied any
"We've checked with our units and it was not an MNF-I (Multi-National Forces
Christopher Garver said, adding he could not confirm the diplomat was
Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in
seized Sunday by gunmen who "operate under the supervision of the American
"The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns this aggressive act which is
in violation of international law," IRNA quoted Hosseini as saying. "
holds American forces in
The incident comes as tensions have been rising between
with both sides for letting the disagreements spill over the border.
An official with the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said
the diplomat was heading to check on the planned opening of an Iranian bank
Sunday in the central Karradah neighborhood when he was seized by men
wearing Iraqi army uniforms.
The Iraqi government official said Iraqi soldiers in two vehicles
intercepted a car carrying the diplomat at 6 p.m. Sunday in the
predominantly Shiite area, then placed him in one of their vehicles that
Iraqi police, apparently suspecting that a kidnapping was taking place,
opened fire on the second vehicle and detained the occupants, according to
the official. He added that the men who had been detained were released
Monday into the custody of members of the unit, who showed official badges
and said they need to transfer the suspects to another police station.
The Iraqi troops were part of an army unit that receives direct orders from
the sensitivity of the information.
Two other Iraqi officials said earlier that the diplomat was kidnapped by
gunmen in Karradah, which has been hit by several recently bombings, and
they expected negotiations to start to secure his release.
The U.S. Embassy spokesman said he could not confirm the reports.
"There appear to be conflicting accounts of this alleged incident and we are
in the process of trying to determine the facts," the spokesman, Lou Fintor,
The incident comes nearly a month after
faction blamed for funding and arming Iraqi militants.
Two diplomats also were detained in a Dec. 21 roundup of a group of 10
suspects. The diplomats were interrogated and released to Iranian officials
eight days later.
The White House also has authorized
Iranian agents deemed to be a threat, saying evidence was mounting that
is supporting terrorists inside
other weapons used to target
suspicion since the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in
students. Most recently, tensions have flared over U.S.-led efforts to
Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini in