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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 August, 2004, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Iraq kidnappers seize Iran consul
An Iranian diplomat has been kidnapped in Iraq, the Iranian embassy in Baghdad has confirmed.

The embassy said Fereidoun Jahani was seized on Wednesday as he travelled from Baghdad to the Shia Muslim holy city of Karbala, in central Iraq.

He had been due to start work there as the Iranian consul.

A group claiming to hold Mr Jahani said he was captured for "stirring sectarian strife", al-Arabiya TV reported after receiving a recorded message.

A video from the group, which called itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, showed a passport and business card with Mr Jahani's name on them

"The group also warned Iran against flagrant interference in the affairs of Iraq," the television station said.

It did not mention any threats against the hostage or demands by the group.

Foreign hostages

The Islamic Army in Iraq was reported to have killed two Pakistani hostages last month.

Mr Jahani is the second foreign diplomat to be held hostage in Iraq. Last month an Egyptian embassy official was kidnapped by a group calling itself the Lions of Allah Brigade.

He was released unharmed three days later.

More than 70 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq in recent months. About 20 are still being held.

At least eight hostages have been executed.



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