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Kidnapped archbishop found dead in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — A Christian archbishop kidnapped in northern Iraq last month has been found dead, according to a Nineveh province official.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho’s body was found Thursday near the town of Mosul, where he and three companions were ambushed by gunmen on February 29.

The archbishop’s driver and two security guards were killed during the attack. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had ordered security services to make it a priority to find and free the archbishop.

Nineveh Deputy Gov. Khasro Goran, in Mosul, told CNN that the kidnappers had been in touch with the church and the relatives and wanted to be a paid a ransom for the archbishop’s release. The contacts ended a few days ago. Watch site where archbishop was kidnapped

The apparent kidnappers had contacted relatives on Thursday and told them the body was in the eastern part of town. Relatives and authorities went to the location and found the body, which had gunshot wounds.

The kidnapping had been condemned by the Vatican, Jordan’s Prince Hassan, and the United Nations, among others. The archbishop was abducted during a push by Iraqi and U.S. troops against al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents in Mosul.

Christians are a tiny fraction of Iraq’s population, but insurgents have targeted their religious sites and leaders in recent years.

Chaldean is a form of Aramaic, spoken at the time of Jesus. The Chaldeans converted to Christianity in the first century A.D., and the Chaldean branch of Christianity has been in Iraq since then. It is part of the Roman Catholic Church.

In Baghdad on Thursday, at least 15 people died and 65 others were wounded when a parked car bomb detonated in a busy commercial area, the Interior Ministry said. Watch wreckage from Baghdad car bomb

The bomb went off in a parking lot in the Bab al-Shurj commercial area, where many DVD and CD stores sell PC games and movies.

Also Thursday, a correspondent for al-Mowaten (The Citizen), a Baghdad newspaper, was killed in a drive-by shooting, an official with the Ministry of Interior told CNN.

The official said the correspondent, Qassim Abdul-Hussein al-Iqabi, was driving in the Karrada district in central Baghdad when he was killed.

A soldier was killed and 10 people were injured near Kirkuk when a suicide car bomb struck an Iraqi army checkpoint in the town of Rashad, a Kirkuk police official told CNN.

Another two people were killed and seven wounded when a bomb exploded at the office of a local anti-insurgent group in Zab, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Kirkuk.

Six of those wounded were members of the Awakening Council. Such groups are predominantly Sunni and oppose al Qaeda in Iraq. They are backed by the United States.

U.S. troops killed an Iraqi girl when they fired a warning shot near a woman who they thought was acting suspiciously along a dangerous stretch of road north of Baghdad, the military said Thursday.

The troops were clearing out roadside bombs in an area of Diyala province that has been the site of several attacks in the past, Maj. Brad Leighton told CNN.

They noticed a woman who appeared to be signaling to someone while the soldiers were in the area, the military said.

The soldiers fired a warning shot into a berm. Later, they found a young girl, about 10 years old, behind the berm with a bullet wound, Leighton said.

The girl died en route to a medical facility.

Iraq has seen an escalation in suicide bombings involving women. But, said Leighton, they [U.S. soldiers] appeared to be more concerned that the woman was signaling to someone with IEDs [roadside bombs] near the road.

On Monday, three U.S. troops and an interpreter were killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Diyala province.

American troops have been hunting down and fighting militants in the area for months.

Five other U.S. soldiers were killed that day in a Baghdad suicide attack, and Iraqi authorities arrested four suspects in the capital Wednesday they believe were involved, according to the U.S. military.

Our resolve to protect the Iraqi people and to bring these murderers to justice is unwavering, Col. Allen Batschelet, the chief of staff for the U.S.-led coalition’s Baghdad division, said in a written statement.

Another three Americans were wounded in Monday’s bombing in Baghdad’s upscale Mansour district. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. troops in the capital since June 28.

U.S. troop deaths in Iraq have declined since last summer, but insurgent attacks resulting in multiple fatalities have flared up from time to time.

Maj. Mark Cheadle, a U.S. military spokesman, told CNN that the decrease in attacks has given authorities more time to investigate who is responsible for the attacks.

We have apprehended suspects in a greater number of instances than we make known because often their capture leads us to other high profile suspects, Cheadle said. Part of the reason why we released the news of the suspects’ detention in this incident was because this was a particularly horrific attack.

He credited Iraqi police for the arrests, along with Iraqi citizens who are sick of this violence and want to see an end to it.
Kidnapped archbishop found dead in Iraq – found here.

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March 13, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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