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Gunmen Kidnap 50 People in Iraq


Iraqi officials say gunmen raided bus stations in Baghdad Monday and kidnapped 50 people. Also, a hard-line Sunni group warned the Iraqi government against taking part in attacks against insurgents in the western Anbar province.

Iraqi officials say that gunmen in police uniforms seized 50 people at Baghdad bus stations Monday in an area where companies offer travel mostly to Syria and Jordan. The Interior Ministry has denied any police involvement.

Victims included employees of Baghdad transport companies as well as passengers. Amjid Hameed witnessed the abduction.

"About 15 cars carrying military troops raided the transport companies,” Hameed said. “They arrested my three cousins and owners of the companies."

This and other attacks have dealt a blow to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's promise to contain sectarian violence. Also, a hardline Sunni group has warned the Iraqi government against taking part in attacks against insurgents in the western Anbar province.

Iraq's parliament postponed a meeting Sunday to decide on candidates for defense and interior ministers. Political wrangling among Iraq's ethnic and sectarian parties forced Mr. Maliki to leave the two key posts vacant when he formed his unity government in May.

Mr. Maliki has said that his government is working on a plan to restore security to Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, and that Iraqi forces will work with U.S. troops.

Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi, a spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, warned the Iraqi government against taking part in any assaults against Anbar. "The consequences of such bloody participation would be very dangerous for Iraqi society and for the government," he said.

The Sunni group is highly critical of U.S. forces and is believed to have links with insurgents.

A U.S. military spokesman said last week that U.S. forces are "very concerned" about Ramadi because al-Qaida militants in Iraq have increased their presence there. The U.S. military says it has brought 1,500 extra combat troops from Kuwait to Iraq to step up the fight against al-Qaida and insurgents.

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