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Iraq Gunmen Kidnap 50 People in Baghdad


Iraqi officials say gunmen in police uniforms abducted 50 people from travel agencies in central Baghdad Monday.

Witnesses say gunmen showed up with 12 vehicles and quickly rounded up people along a street that houses companies offering transport to Syria and Jordan. At least two Syrian nationals were among those taken.

Iraq's Interior Ministry denied any involvement in the incident and said it is investigating.

Meanwhile, the Italian military says an Italian soldier was killed and four others wounded when a bomb blew up their vehicle about 100 kilometers from Nassiriya in southern Iraq.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi expressed sorrow for the incident. In his election campaign before taking office last month, Mr. Prodi vowed to bring Italy's 2,700 troops in Iraq home by the end of the year.

Separately, gunmen killed a member of the Badr Brigade militia group in the upscale al-Mansour neighborhood in Baghdad. South of the capital, police found the bodies of four men floating in the Tigris River.

In other developments, two defense witnesses appeared during a brief session of the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants.

And a court in Baghdad sentenced an Iraqi man to life in prison for helping the kidnappers of British aid worker Margaret Hassan, who was killed in captivity in 2004. The court found Mustafa Salman guilty of aiding and abetting the kidnappers. The court acquitted two other suspects.

Hassan was director of CARE International in Iraq. Her body has never been found.

And Russian and Iraqi officials are working to secure the release of four Russian diplomats abducted in Baghdad on Saturday. A fifth Russian diplomat was killed in the attack.

Some information for AP, AFP and Reuters.

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