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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Iraq Anglican heads feared dead
A soldier patrols outside Baghdad's Anglican Church
An Iraqi soldier patrols outside Baghdad's Anglican Church
The entire lay leadership of the Anglican church in Iraq is missing and feared dead after being attacked on a dangerous road west of Baghdad.

The five Iraqis were last heard from on 13 September when they reported they had already being attacked travelling on road between Ramadi and Falluja.

Church officials had kept silent about the matter while US forces did checks, but there has been no sign of them.

The Anglicans were returning from a trip to Jordan when they disappeared.

"We have no news of them and fear the worst," Most Reverend Clive Handford, president bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, told BBC News.

Bishop Handford said he thought it was unlikely that the five were specifically targeted.

"They had just entered some of the most dangerous country in Iraq, where there are an enormous number of robberies. People will steal cars, money, anything of value, and sometimes people get killed."

The missing include the lay pastor of St George's church in Baghdad, Maher Dakel, his wife Mona and son Yehiya.

Lay members of the Church fulfil roles in religious services and administration, without being ordained as priests.

Anglican officials are set to meet next week to consider the Church's role in Iraq, which serves an 800-strong congregation of Iraqi Christians in Baghdad.

In other developments in Iraq:

  • Insurgents opened fire on a Shia bakery in the Doura area of Baghdad, killing at least two people.
  • At least two people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying government workers, also in Baghdad.
  • US forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organisation, the Conference for Iraq's People, including its secretary general Adnan al-Dulaimi.

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