Two pan-Arab satellite television channels reported Friday that a diplomat and five other Sudanese have been kidnapped in Iraq, but the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm. A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman appealed for their release in an interview with the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera's correspondent in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Taher al-Mahdi, quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the kidnappers had abducted the Sudanese, including the embassy's second secretary, "after they finished their Friday prayers at a Baghdad mosque."
The reporter did not give the number of kidnappers or say with what they were armed. The undersecretary at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Labeed Abbawi, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that the ministry had not heard of such an abduction. "We have no report of Sudanese diplomats being kidnapped," said Abbawi. The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel also reported the kidnapping of six Sudanese, including a diplomat.
There was no immediate word on the abduction from the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad. Gunmen have kidnapped more than 240 foreigners and killed at least 39 since the Iraqi insurgency began after U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein in April 2003.
The kidnapping of Arab diplomats has been particularly embarrassing to the Iraqi government, which has been pressing Arab states to return their ambassadors to Baghdad. Arab governments have been reluctant to raise their diplomatic missions to full strength, despite promising to do so in an Arab League resolution, because of the insecurity, reports the AP. N.U.