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Last Updated: Friday, 23 July, 2004, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Egyptian envoy abducted in Iraq
Hostage with captors
Al-Jazeera said the Lions of Allah Brigade had abducted the diplomat
An armed group in Iraq has kidnapped an Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad, the Egyptian embassy in the capital says.

Arab Al-Jazeera TV named the diplomat as Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb and said he had been abducted following comments by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

Mr Nazif had said Egypt was ready to offer its security experience to the interim Iraqi government.

The news came as the kidnappers of seven foreign hostages in Iraq issued a new deadline to their Kuwaiti employer.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says it is believed to be the first time a diplomat has been seized in post-war Iraq.

Our correspondent says embassies in Iraq normally have extremely tight security and Egyptian officials have been quoted as saying their colleague was kidnapped as he left a mosque.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit responded to news of the abduction by saying that Cairo had absolutely no plans to send troops or provide military assistance to Iraq.

Compensation

Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape by the perpetrators of the latest kidnapping, who identified themselves as the Lions of Allah Brigade.

The video showed the diplomat sitting in front of six masked men dressed in black.

Al-Jazeera also reported that the group holding seven foreign truck drivers - named as The Holders of the Black Banners - had offered a new 48-hour deadline to the Kuwaiti firm that employs them.

The seven - three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian - were seized on Wednesday.

According to al-Jazeera, they called for the company to pay compensation to the families of Iraqis killed during fighting earlier this year between US troops and insurgents in Falluja.

They also demanded the release of Iraqi prisoners in American and Kuwaiti jails, the TV station said.

The group had previously threatened to kill one of their hostages every 72 hours unless the company left Iraq.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"The new hostage is quite a prize as he is a diplomat"




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