BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Six kidnapped employees of Sudan’s embassy have been released following the Sudanese government’s pledge to close its embassy in Baghdad, a Sudanese official said Sunday.
Mohamed Ahmed Khalil, the Sudanese embassy’s charge d’affairs, told The Associated Press that Sudanese officials had talked to the employees by phone and they were at a friend’s house in central Baghdad.
The Sudanese Foreign Ministry reported on Dec. 24 that six of its embassy employees had been kidnapped — including the mission’s second secretary.
Al-Qaida in Iraq had set a Saturday deadline for Sudan to “announce clearly that it is cutting its relations” with the Iraqi government, or it would kill the hostages. Sudan said Friday it would close its embassy in Baghdad in an effort to win their release.
The terror group has kidnapped and killed a string of Arab diplomats and embassy employees in a campaign to scare Arab governments from setting up full diplomatic missions in Iraq.
It said it had previously warned Arab nations of its “war against what is called the diplomatic missions in Baghdad,” adding that the governments had ignored it, “still getting closer to the infidel Crusaders and Jews.”
In July, al-Qaida abducted the top Egyptian envoy in Baghdad, Ihab al-Sherif, and two Algerian diplomats. It later announced they had been killed. The group also snatched two Moroccan embassy employees in June and said that it had sentenced them to death, though it never stated whether it carried out the sentences.