Diplomats ambushed in Iraq

The Bahraini charge d’affaires in Iraq was injured by gunfire when his vehicle was ambushed near his residence in the central Mansur district, shortly after the Pakistani ambassador narrowly escaped a similar attack in the same area.

Three days after the abduction of Egypt’s top envoy, the Iraqi government said the attacks were a “a message of terror” to dissuade governments from expanding ties with Iraq.

Pakistan said it was moving its ambassador, Younis Khan, to Amman.

The attack on Mr Khan happened as two cars came up from behind and fired on his vehicle.

“I am safe, but it was a very narrow escape,” Mr Khan said. “We sped out of danger but it was an extremely dangerous situation.”

He said one of the attackers was hit in an ensuing gunfight with his guards.

Gunmen earlier shot Hassan al-Ansari, the Bahraini charge d’affaires, while he was travelling in his car with diplomatic license plates, an interior ministry source said.

Mr Ansari was treated at Yarmuk hospital before leaving with guards.

Witnesses said he was ambushed by at least eight gunmen after leaving his home.

“Two men got out of their cars and screamed at him ‘get out of your car’,” a witness said.

Instead, the diplomat kept going, and two of the men shot at him with an assault rifle and pistol, the witness said.

Mr Ansari’s car slowed down, but when the men ran after him he accelerated and managed to get away.

Two hundred metres further on, Mr Ansari stopped near a policeman and cried out: “I am a diplomat, help me!”.

“He was bleeding a lot. His suit, case and car were covered with blood,” the policeman later said.

Neither the rich Gulf kingdom of Bahrain nor Pakistan have contributed troops to the US-led coalition in Iraq to make them obvious targets of insurgents, though Bahrain is home to a large US naval base.

Egypt’s ambassador-designate to Iraq, Ihab al-Sharif, who was set to become the first ambassador from an Arab nation to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, was abducted over the weekend.