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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Diplomat Killed, 4 Others Kidnapped in Iraqi Attack

APA view of the Russian diplomatic car that was attacked Saturday in Baghdad.
BAGHDAD -- A Russian diplomat was killed and four diplomatic employees were kidnapped in Baghdad over the weekend, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday assailants attacked a Russian diplomatic car that was carrying "workers of the Russian foreign service who were performing their official duties," killing one person and abducting four.

Police said witnesses at the scene told them that gunmen opened fire on a car that belonged to the Russian Embassy in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district.

The ministry identified the slain diplomat as Vitaly Titov.

The body of the diplomat was taken to Baghdad morgue. Russian security personnel kept media away and confiscated equipment from Associated Press Television News.

There were conflicting reports Sunday over the fate of the four kidnapped diplomats.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman denied a report that the four had been released the night before in a raid by Iraqi commandos.

A senior ministry official, Lieutenant Colonel Falah al-Mohamedawi, said earlier that the Russian Embassy employees had been freed in a commando raid Saturday.

The embassy said it had no new information on the captives. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said it was still trying to verify the information.

The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party condemned the attack and called on the kidnappers to release the diplomats immediately. It also urged the Iraqi government to take action to secure Baghdad and other Iraqi cities and "put an end to these crimes."

At least 439 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion three years ago, according to figures provided earlier this month by a special U.S. anti-kidnapping task force. Diplomats have been the targets of abductions previously.

In May 2004, gunmen ambushed Russian electrical engineers at Musayyib, Iraq, kidnapping two and killing one. The two hostages were later released. Rebels also ambushed Russian technicians heading to a Baghdad power plant the same month, killing two of the technicians and an Iraqi. The violence prompted Moscow-based Interenergoservis to pull out its 241 employees.