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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Gunmen kidnap Iraq football star
Iraq's Qahtan Chatir jumps over a tackle by Lebanon's Mohammed al-Reda in an Asian Cup match
Prominent sportsmen have been targeted by militants in Iraq
Gunmen in Baghdad have kidnapped Ghanim Khudayer, a well-known Iraqi footballer, from his home.

An official for the Iraqi Air Force football club said the security forces were aware of the incident, which took place on Friday.

Ghanim's team won the 2004-2005 Iraqi football championship and he is considered one of the best forwards at the club.

There has been a spate of kidnappings of Iraqi sportsmen.

In July, Iraq's Olympic Committee chief, Ahmed al-Hadjiya, was kidnapped along with 30 others.

He is still missing, though a number of those kidnapped in the incident have been released.

Iraq's national football soccer coach, Akram Salman, fled to Iraqi Kurdistan earlier this year after receiving death threats.

About to leave for Syria

Sameer Kadhim, chairman of the Iraqi Air Force football club said: "Gunmen wearing military uniforms and driving four-wheel drive vehicles broke into the house of Ghanim Khudayer and took him away.

"We do not know the reasons for the kidnapping and also who is behind this."

The 22-year-old footballer was about to sign a contract with a Syrian football club in an attempt to escape the violence in Iraq, a club official said.

Khudayer has played for Iraq's under-23 international team.

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