Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Egyptian diplomat reportedly killed

July 8, 2005

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— Al-Qaida's wing in Iraq claimed Thursday it had killed Egypt's top envoy who was abducted by gunmen last weekend and warned it would go after "as many ambassadors as we can" to punish countries that support Iraq's U.S.-backed leadership.

Iraq's chief government spokesman said the killing and Thursday's bombings in London show that terrorism "is not only targeting Iraqis, but everyone." An Egyptian official in Cairo said Egypt would temporarily close its mission here and has recalled its staff.

The country's president, meanwhile, called for a "war of annihilation" against foreign Islamic extremists as at least eight people were killed in violence Thursday.

The announcement from Iraq's most feared terror group appeared on an al-Qaida-linked Web site and featured a brief video showing the blindfolded diplomat, Ihab al-Sherif, wearing a polo shirt. The video did not show his death, but the statement promised more details later.

"We announce in the name of al-Qaida in Iraq that the verdict of God against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt, has been carried out. Thank God," a written statement in posting said, adding "Iraq is no longer safe for the infidels."

The Iraqi foreign ministry offered condolences for the "assassination" and an Egyptian diplomat who spoke to Egyptian reporters in Cairo said the government was sure al-Sherif was dead "from our own means." He spoke on condition of anonymity and did not elaborate.

Separately, the U.S. military defended its decision to continue holding five U.S. citizens in Iraq on suspicion of links to the insurgency. Three of the five are Iraqi-American citizens, one is an Iranian-American and a fifth is a Jordanian-American.

"We have sufficient facts and evidence that they're being detained appropriately," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, spokesman for the Multinational Force in Iraq.

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