Accessibility links

UNHCR: 17 Palestinians Seized in Baghdad Released

The United Nations refugee agency says 17 Palestinians seized Tuesday in Baghdad have been released.

A senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press security forces detained the 17 Palestinians after a sniper attack, but freed them after determining they were innocent.

However, a spokesperson for the U.N. refugee agency, Astrid van Genderen Stort, says armed men dressed as Iraqi security troops later seized 13 other Palestinians in a different neighborhood of the Iraqi capital.

She says the agency is worried about the situation.

The U.N.H.C.R. says there are about 15,000 Palestinians in Iraq, less than half the estimated number during the former government of Saddam Hussein.

Palestinians, who are mostly Sunni, were well-treated under Saddam's rule. Their situation has deteriorated since the U.S.-led invasion.

Many have tried to flee the country, seeking asylum in neighboring states. But U.N.H.C.R. spokesman Ron Redmond says they often do not have documentation.

He says there are about 500 Palestinians stuck at the Syrian border, while more than 100 are waiting at an isolated refugee camp in Jordan.

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