June 9, 2006

Gunmen kidnap Iraq official in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped a senior official of
Iraq's oil ministry in Baghdad on Thursday after he left work,
police and oil ministry sources said on Friday.

The incident happened the same day U.S. troops killed
Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose demise the
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said would help
improve the country's oil production, particularly in the

The sources said Muthana al-Badri, Director General of
Iraq's State Company for Oil Projects (SCOP), was on his way
home in the Sunni district of Adhamiya when gunmen in four cars
stopped his car and abducted him but set his driver free.

They said the kidnappers have not contacted the ministry or
Badri's family.

The kidnapping highlights the challenges and dangers which
Iraq's oil sector, hampered by violence and political
wrangling, face.

"The death of Zarqawi will lead to the reduction in the
level of violence and terrorist attacks and this will
definitely help to improve our production, particularly from
the northern fields and exports," Shahristani told Reuters in
an interview in Istanbul on Thursday.