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More Kidnappings, Car Bombs Hit Iraqi Capital

18 January 2006

Gunmen killed 10 guards and kidnapped an African engineer in an attack on a private security convoy in Baghdad, Wednesday. The kidnapping comes less than one day after the abductors threatened to kill kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll. Carroll appeared in a videotape broadcast on satellite channel Al Jazeera on Tuesday. Violence continued to rise in Baghdad and around the country, as Iraqis prepare for a government to form later this month.

Dozens of Iraqi police with automatic weapons blocked the main street in a Baghdad neighborhood Wednesday after a parked car bomb exploded at rush hour. Abu Saif, a neighborhood resident, says he was sitting nearby when the bomb went off.

A young man parked his car here and got out, he said. The road was blocked because a government official was passing on the street. Five minutes later the traffic started moving again, and then the young man's parked car blew up.

One other car was damaged in the explosion. The car's burnt frame smoldered in the middle of the road, the passenger side door pockmarked with shrapnel holes. Nearby, three unexploded artillery shells from the car bomb sat caked in ash on the wet
pavement, still damp from firemens' hoses.

Witnesses said the damaged vehicle had been carrying four women and a man. Only one of them was injured in the attack, the witnesses said.

But across town in west Baghdad, the toll was much worst. In broad daylight, gunmen ambushed the three car security convoy of an African engineer working for an Iraqi mobile phone company. The attack killed several of the company's guards, and gunmen kidnapped the engineer. The fate of another foreign engineer working for the same company and believed to be in the convoy is not known.

The kidnapping is the second high profile abduction this month. American freelance journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped on January 7 from a dangerous western Baghdad neighborhood, while on assignment for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper.

On Tuesday, the satellite news channel Al Jazeera aired a 20-second, silent video that showed Carroll speaking to the camera in front of a white background. Al Jazeera said the tape was accompanied by a note demanding the release of all female prisoners detained in Iraq. Al Jazeera said the note was from a previously unknown group calling itself "The Revenge Brigade." The group said it would kill Carroll if their demands were not met in 72 hours.

Gunmen ambushed Carroll, her driver and translator as they left the office of a prominent Sunni politician, Adnan Al Dulaimi, in a dangerous west Baghdad neighborhood. Carroll had gone to the office to interview Mr. Dulaimi, but the politician was not there. As they left his office, gunmen stopped the car, and sped off with Carroll and her translator. Her translator, an Iraqi Christian known for owning a popular pre-war music shop that sold western CDs, was found dead a short time later on nearby street.

Carroll's family issued a statement appealing for her release, saying the 28-year-old reporter had been a friend and sister to many Iraqis, and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world.

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