Da Arab News del 28/07/2005
Originale su http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=67596&d=...

Algerian Diplomats Murdered

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s most feared terror group claimed yesterday it killed two kidnapped Algerian diplomats, warning Muslim nations not to “stand by America in its aggression” in Iraq. US troops clamped a curfew on a city north of Baghdad after a bomb killed an American soldier.

Progress toward an Iraqi constitution, meanwhile, hit another snag — this time from the Kurds — as framers raced toward an Aug. 15 deadline under new and intensified US pressure. “It’s time for a compromise,” visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Iraqis.

An Internet statement posted in the name of Al-Qaeda in Iraq announced that Algeria’s chief envoy Ali Belaroussi and fellow diplomat Azzedine Belkadi had been killed because their government represses Muslims “in violation of God’s will.”

The statement provided no photographic evidence of the deaths and the statement’s authenticity could not be confirmed.

Belaroussi, 62, and Belkadi, 47, were kidnapped at gunpoint July 21 in Baghdad’s upscale Mansour area. They appeared in a video posted Tuesday on the Internet blindfolded and in captivity. It was the second time this month that Al-Qaeda has claimed to have killed an Arab envoy — part of a campaign to scare off Islamic diplomats and undermine support for Iraq’s government within the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Egyptian envoy Ihab Al-Sherif, 51, was seized July 2, and Al-Qaeda later claimed he had been killed — although no photos were posted. Top envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain escaped kidnapping attempts a few days after Al-Sherif disappeared. In yesterday’s statement, Al-Qaeda linked the latest deaths to Algeria’s crackdown on extremists.

“We won’t forget what Algeria did to Muslims, by killings, destruction and spilling their blood,” the statement said. It claimed Belkadi was involved in 1997 massacres of the Algerian villages of Rais and Benthala, south of Algiers where hundreds of people were killed.

The statement warned Muslim governments “not to be loyal to Jews and Christians and stand by the side of America in its aggression” against Muslims in Iraq.

The Algerian state radio interrupted its programming to broadcast an announcement from the office of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, which said that the diplomats had been executed. The statement did not provide the source of the information.

“Algeria will remember this,” Bouteflika said in the statement, adding that the government would pursue “those who have dared to so scandalously attack the children of a country that has done so much to fight at the sides of the Iraqi people in its quest for sovereignty, national unity, for its territorial integrity.”

Also, yesterday, Iraqi commandos have captured an Egyptian said to be an associate of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s No. 2, police sources said.

Police named the suspect as Hamdi Tantawi and said he was detained in a raid on a farmhouse near the town of Yusufiya, south of Baghdad. They said Tantawi was suspected of financing insurgent operations in the area.

They said Tantawi was believed to be a lieutenant to Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor regarded as second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden in the Al-Qaeda network.

Computers, money and weapons were also seized in the raid, the police said.

Yesterday’s operation took place in an area called Al-Shakhat, about 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, part of a region referred to as the “triangle of death” by US troops because of the frequency of insurgent attacks.

Police said initial interrogations had revealed that Tantawi was responsible for several attacks on Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians in the area.

The US military and the Iraqi government were not immediately available to comment on the arrest.

Meanwhile, at least 15 Iraqi police, soldiers and civilians were killed nationwide yesterday in scattered attacks.

In Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, US forces banned all movement on the streets yesterday after a roadside bomb killed an American soldier and wounded five others, the US command said.

Samarra has been an insurgent flashpoint since Iraqi authorities lost control of the city to Al-Qaeda-linked extremists last year. US troops recaptured the city and maintain tenuous control.

In another development, Iraqi police will detain suspects by day rather than at night, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday after a number of people were found murdered after being picked up by men in uniform.

Talabani also said that government officials had opened investigations into several cases of alleged police and military abuse, but gave no details on the cases.

Authorities have decided arrests “should be carried out by certain (police) groups, and according to the law and with judicial approval. And during daytime, not at night,” Talabani told reporters.

“This procedure will give us the ability to know who the detainees are and how we can deal with them,” he added.

Talabani cautioned that “some terrorists put on army and police uniforms and they arrest people at their homes.” “Sometimes they demand a bribe to release them, other times they execute them,” he said.

There have been a number of recent reports of men wearing police or police commando uniforms arresting people at night at their homes.

The bodies of some victims have turned up a day or two later, abandoned on waste ground in Baghdad, their bodies sometimes mutilated, often shot with bullets to the back of the head.

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