Some 85 Iraqi Workers Abducted by Gunmen

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Gunman abducted about 85 workers Wednesday as they left an industrial plant north of Baghdad, police and a witness said.

The workers were thought to be mostly Shiite and the plant is located in a predominantly Sunni Arab area.

The witness said that about 85 workers were taken near the parking lot of the al-Nasr General Complex in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, while police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said they filled up a bus and a minivan. Taji is predominantly Sunni Arab area that has seen much insurgent activity.

Under Saddam Hussein, the complex was a military plant, but it now makes metal doors, windows and pipes.

Kamel Mohammed, an engineer working at the plant, said by telephone he saw two of the plant’s buses and a minivan intercepted by gunmen in three sedans.

The two buses and the single minivan ferry workers from the plant to the Shiite areas of Shula and Hurrayah in Baghdad.

Other workers leaving the plant in their own cars were forced by the gunmen to get into the buses.

The incident took place about 50 yards from the plant’s parking lot.

It was the most recent case involving mass abductions.

On June 6, gunmen in police uniforms raided a business district in central Baghdad, seizing 50 people, including travelers, merchants and vendors. Both Shiites and Sunnis work in the area.

The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which oversees police, denied its forces were behind the kidnappings.

Suspicion fell on militias, which are believed to have infiltrated police forces and have killed hundreds in sectarian violence, personal vendettas and kidnappings for ransom.

It was unclear what became of the victims.

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