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Ambassadors targeted in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD: Militants mounted attacks against Arab and Muslim diplomats in Iraq on Tuesday, wounding Bahrain's top envoy in a kidnapping attempt. Pakistan's Ambassador also escaped an assault on his convoy.

The attacks came three days after gunmen seized Egypt's top envoy as he was buying a newspaper here, appearing to signal a campaign to discourage Islamic countries from bolstering ties with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

``The aim is clear, just to create a state of fear,'' Iraqi Government spokesman Laith Kuba told reporters. Mr. Sherif's kidnapping ``was an attempt to ... scare the other diplomatic missions so that they won't expand their presence in Iraq.''

The Bahraini diplomat, Hassan Malallah al-Ansari, was shot on his way to work in the Mansour district of western Baghdad, said Dr. Muhanad Jawad of Yarmouk Hospital. He was treated for a shoulder wound and released, witnesses said. ``There was an attempt to kidnap him by gunmen when he was on his way from his house to the Bahrain mission in Baghdad,'' Bahrain Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Yousef Mahmoud was quoted as saying by the official Bahrain News Agency.

Pakistan's Ambassador Mohammed Younis Khan said gunmen riding in two cars opened fire on his convoy as he was on his way home from work in the same neighbourhood, but he was not wounded.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said it had asked Mr. Khan to leave the country temporarily after the attack. ``Our escort fired back at them so we were able to escape without any harm,'' Mr. Khan said. He said he believed that one of the attackers' cars was hit by fire from his bodyguards. ``It happened so quickly I didn't have time to think of being scared,'' said Mr. Khan, who was named Ambassador earlier this year. — AP

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