News / Middle East

Gunmen Seize, Release Baghdad Official


Gunmen wearing army uniforms who seized a senior local official and prominent member of a Sunni Islamist party from his Baghdad home on Friday night have released him, an official said late on Saturday.

The armed men in SUVs had shown up at the home of Riyadh al-Adhdah, who heads Baghdad's Provincial Council and belongs to the Sunni Islamist Iraqi Islamic Party, and taken him away.

Ghalib al-Zamili, a member of the council, told Reuters Adhdah was released on Saturday evening.

``I am on my way to see him now and do not yet have the details of his release,'' he said.

It was not clear if Adhdah had been kidnapped by militiamen, who often wear military outfits, or detained by the authorities.      Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's military spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the incident.

Adhdah had previously faced terrorism charges but was not convicted due to a lack of evidence. Sunni politicians have long accused Maliki's security forces of targeting them on false terrorism-related charges in a witch-hunt

The lightning sweep of Sunni militants through northern Iraq has deepened sectarian tensions and raised fears not only that Baghdad faces a violent carve-up but also a possible return to the kidnappings and killings of the 2006-2007 civil war.

In a sign of the breakdown of security in and around Baghdad, 15 people, including an entire Shi'ite family, were found shot or beheaded, according to police and medical sources.

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