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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Bahrain envoy shot in Iraq attack
Police inspect minibus in which four female airport employees were killed
The airport road is a frequent target of insurgent attacks
Bahrain's top envoy to Iraq has been shot and wounded by gunmen who attacked his car in the capital, Baghdad.

Hassan Malallah al-Ansari was ambushed by gunmen as he made his way to work in the upscale Mansour district.

Mr Ansari was hit by one bullet in his arm and is in a stable condition. The attack follows the kidnapping of Egypt's envoy to Iraq three days ago.

In other violence, four women employees at Baghdad airport have been killed in an ambush on their minibus.

Two groups of gunman in two cars ambushed the vehicle as it was taking passengers to work along the dangerous airport road. Four men were also injured in the attack.

A bomb has also exploded near the Iranian mission in Baghdad, but police said it targeted a US military patrol, rather than Iranian diplomats. A civilian guard was wounded in the blast.

Narrow escape

Mr Ansari was travelling in his diplomatic car when he was accosted by at least two armed men driving a pick-up truck and a Japanese car, according to an eyewitness quoted by AFP.

Wounded Bahraini envoy in hospital
Mr Ansari's quick thinking may have saved him from a worse fate
The men "screamed at him 'get out of your car' and at me 'get back inside'," the eyewitness - a local shop-owner - said.

However, the witness said the diplomat kept driving and his car was hit by gunfire as it sped off.

Further down the road, a blood-spattered Mr Ansari pulled up and called to a policeman: "I am a diplomat, help me!"

He was taken to Yarmuk hospital and treated for his wound. He left shortly afterwards.

State of panic

The attack comes after Egypt's ambassador-designate, Ihab al-Sherif, was kidnapped at gunpoint as he stopped at a newspaper stand in a Baghdad street on Saturday.

I had a nervous breakdown when I saw the story... and my mother collapsed after she heard the news
Ingi al-Sherif
Daughter of Egyptian envoy
Cairo has appealed to the kidnappers to treat him well and view him as an Arab patriot.

A spokesman for the family said there had been no demands from the kidnappers.

"I had a nervous breakdown when I saw the story... and my mother collapsed after she heard the news," Mr Sherif's daughter Ingi said in a newspaper interview. "A state of panic looms over our house."

Both Egypt and Bahrain have close ties with the US. Bahrain hosts a major US naval base, which was used in invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Washington and Iraq's transitional government have been urging Arab states to upgrade their diplomatic ties with Baghdad by appointing full ambassadors - a call heeded by Egypt last month.


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