Source AP ©

Senior Oil Ministry official released by kidnappers

Five ministry officials, including a senior deputy to Iraq's oil minister, were Tuesday two weeks after they were seized by gunmen from the ministry compound in east Baghdad.

Abdel-Jabar al-Wagaa, the senior assistant to Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, and the others were feed about noon, according to ministry spokesman Assem Jihad.

"They are safe and sound," he said, refusing to give any further information.

More than 50 gunmen dressed in Iraqi security forces uniforms and using 17 official vehicles broke into an Oil Ministry compound on Aug. 14 and abducted the five officials, who also included a top official in the State Oil Marketing Organization and three directors general in the operation.

Five ministry security guards were wounded in the raid.

Al-Shahristani described the attack as a "terrorist blitz" aimed at crippling Iraq's oil industry.

Five Britons were seized May 29 in a similar raid on Iraq's Finance Ministry, not far from the oil facility. They were taken by gunmen wearing police uniforms and have not been found.

Both government organizations are near the lawless Sadr City Shiite enclave, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia.

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