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More Than 85 Factory Workers Kidnapped in Iraq


At least 85 Iraqi factory workers have been kidnapped in Taji, north of Baghdad.

Security officials say gunmen in vehicles seized buses transporting the workers home after they finished their shift Wednesday. The employees work for companies that fall under the ministry of industry.

Separately, members of Saddam Hussein's defense team say one of their colleagues was found shot dead in Baghdad after he was abducted at his home. Khamis al-Obaidi was the third attorney for Saddam to be killed since the trial of the ousted Iraqi leader began last year for the killing of 148 Shi'ites.

Lead defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said Saddam and his seven co-defendants have begun a hunger strike to protest the killing and demand international protection for their attorneys.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Adam Ereli, condemned the murder, but noted that Obaidi had turned down offers of protection. He said the U.S. is committed to helping Iraq's government bring those responsible to justice.

In other developments, a car bomb in Baghdad's Shi'ite neighborhood of Sadr City killed two people. The U.S. military said Iraqi troops captured a "high-level" insurgent, Noori Abu Hayder al-Oqabi, during a raid in the capital.

Also today, the Russian foreign ministry called on Iraqi insurgents to spare the lives of four embassy workers who were kidnapped in Baghdad earlier this month. The Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, announced today it will kill the Russians because Moscow has not agreed to withdraw from Chechnya.

The group made the announcement on an Internet Web site.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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