BAGHDAD, Iraq – Hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi forces on Monday launched their biggest Baghdad raid in recent weeks, moving on foot through a central neighborhood and rounding up dozens of suspected insurgents, the military said.
About 500 members of Iraq’s police and army swept through buildings in the Rashid neighborhood along with a “couple hundred” American soldiers, detaining 65 suspected militants, said Lt. Col. Clifford Kent of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.
One Iraqi soldier was injured but no American casualties were reported in the largest joint raid in Iraq’s capital by U.S. and Iraqi forces since the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based division assumed responsibility for the city on Feb. 27, Kent said. One suspected insurgent was also being treated for wounds, the military said in a statement.
In the western town of Qaim, witnesses said insurgents hit the main gates of a U.S. military base with twin suicide car bombs Monday morning. At least three civilians were hospitalized with injuries, said Ammar Fuad, a doctor at the local hospital. U.S. military officials had no immediate comment.
On Sunday, the family of a Pakistani embassy employee kidnapped in Baghdad appealed to his captors to release him, and al-Qaida’s ally in Iraq claimed to have kidnapped and killed a senior police official.
Malik Mohammed Javed, a consular and community affairs employee at Pakistan’s embassy, went missing in Baghdad on Saturday after leaving home to pray at a mosque, officials said Sunday.
The previously unknown Omar bin Khattab group claimed responsibility for his kidnapping, and Javed called the embassy to say his abductors had not harmed him, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani said he had no information about the group. There have been no reports of a group by that name existing in Iraq. The kidnappers’ demands were not immediately clear.
Possibly anticipating a demand for Islamabad to close its embassy in Baghdad, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said, “We will neither withdraw our embassy staff nor close the mission.”
Javed’s son appealed to his father’s kidnappers to release him.
“Everyone is crying here,” Bilal Malik, 20, told The Associated Press by telephone Sunday. “My father has done nothing wrong. He was only going to offer his prayers. They are Muslims. They should release our father who is also a Muslim.”
The kidnapping comes nine months after insurgents abducted and killed two Pakistanis working for a Kuwaiti company in Iraq. Their abductors had demanded that Pakistan promise not to send any troops to Iraq. Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, has refused to deploy peacekeepers and has urged its citizens to avoid coming here.
Also Sunday, the terrorist group al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed to have kidnapped and killed Najaf police Brig. Gen. Bassem Mohammed Kadhim al-Jazaari while he was visiting Baghdad. “After his confessions, God’s verdict was carried out against him,” said the statement, which could not be independently verified.
Iraqi Interior Ministry official Capt. Ahmed Isma’el said al-Jazaari was kidnapped in western Baghdad late Saturday, along with his nephew, but he had no other details.