BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Two people have been detained in connection with the kidnapping of two Algerian diplomats last week, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Monday.
Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, a ministry security adviser, did not say who the suspects were nor when they were picked up in last week”s abduction of Algeria”s top envoy to Iraq, charge d”affaires Ali Belaroussi, 62, and another Algerian diplomat, Azzedine Belkadi, 47.
The two Algerians were kidnapped at gunpoint last Thursday along with their driver in west Baghdad”s upscale Mansour district, police and Algerian officials said.
On Monday, al-Iraqiya TV broadcast part of an interview with Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who referred to the detentions.
"More than 30 cars from the special security intelligence forces surrounded the place and they detained two related to the kidnapping," Jabr said. "They are now under investigation. We were expecting that we would find the Algerian ambassador there, but we found some related persons to the kidnapping."
An Internet statement Saturday attributed to al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for kidnapping the two diplomats this week, saying their government had ignored warnings against deepening ties to the U.S.-backed Iraqi leadership. The statement”s authenticity could not be verified.
The abductions brought to five the number of key diplomats from Islamic countries targeted in Baghdad. Egyptian envoy Ihab al-Sherif was seized July 2 as part of an apparent campaign to undermine support for the Iraqi government among Arab and Muslim nations.
After al-Sherif was abducted, gunmen fired on envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain in what police said were kidnap attempts. The Pakistani”s security guards returned fire and he escaped unharmed. The Bahraini was slightly wounded, and the assailants fled when a traffic policeman fired warning shots.
Al-Qaida later claimed al-Sherif was killed but offered no photographic evidence.