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Bombs rattle Baghdad as Sudan closes embassy

Two policemen were killed on Saturday after Khartoum said it was closing its embassy because of threats by Al-Qaeda to kill five Sudanese hostages.

world Updated: Dec 31, 2005 13:56 IST

Two policemen were killed on Saturday after Khartoum said it was closing its embassy because of threats by Al-Qaeda in Iraq to kill five Sudanese hostages.

In two separate bomb attacks in Baghdad, two policemen were killed and six wounded, four of them police commandos. Two civilians were also hurt, an interior ministry official said.

Sudan announced it would immediately close its embassy in Baghdad and withdraws its diplomats after Al-Qaeda in Iraq, on Thursday claimed the kidnapping of five Sudanese, including a diplomat, in an Internet statement.

It gave Khartoum 48 hours to break off diplomatic relations with Baghdad, close its embassy and "withdraw all its representatives" in Iraq.

One of the Sudanese who appeared in the video identified himself as the embassy's second secretary and urged his government to obey the kidnappers.

"I call on the Sudanese government to respond to the demands of the Iraqi resistance," he said.

On December 23, Khartoum said six Sudanese nationals, including the embassy's second secretary Abdel Monem al-Huri and four embassy employees, had been seized by unknown assailants while leaving a mosque in the Iraqi capital.

The sixth hostage, whom Khartoum had called "a friend" of one of the employees, was not mentioned by the extremist group.

"The foreign ministry has decided to close down its embassy in Baghdad and withdraw its diplomats there as of Friday," foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Mohamed Ibrahim said in Khartoum.

Earlier, Iraq's foreign ministry had pledged all-out efforts to free the kidnapped Sudanese, while expressing hope the incident would not mar links between the two countries.

"The ministry strongly condemns the kidnapping of six Sudanese nationals. It will do its utmost to win their release," a statement said.

"We want to stress that these kidnappings will not affect the brotherly links between our two countries," the ministry added.

Iraqi authorities are struggling to expand diplomatic ties, especially with fellow Islamic countries, at a time when rebels are increasingly targeting foreign diplomats in drive-by shootings or kidnappings.

First Published: Dec 31, 2005 13:56 IST