Gunmen who abducted 11 Iranian pilgrims in Iraq kill one pilgrim and group's Iraqi driver
Gunmen killed an Iranian pilgrim north of Baghdad along with his Iraqi driver after a group of 11 pilgrims from Iran were kidnapped on Friday. Three of the abducted female pilgrims were freed on Saturday and later discovered by Iraqi security forces.
One of the freed women told reporters on Sunday that the group was ambushed as they traveled from the town of Samarra, where they had prayed at the Shiite shrine of Imam Ali Al Hadi, towards Baghdad, a report from Reuters citing IRIN said.
According to Maliha Abdul Wahab, who had been among the three women freed, the pilgrims were forced out of the bus they were traveling in by gunmen who then handcuffed all the men in the group.
After an altercation between one of the gunmen and a male pilgrim, said Wahab, the pilgrim was shot and killed. When the group's Iraqi bus driver attempted to help, he was also killed.
The seven gunmen had apparently been present as the pilgrims prayed in Samarra. "I recognized two of the gunmen. I saw them during our praying in Ali Al Hadi," Wahab added.
Iraqi and Iranian authorities have been cooperating to secure the release of the remaining captives.
A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Hamid Reza Asefi, told IRNA, "We will do our utmost to guarantee their release and safe return to Iran."
Four other Iranians who had been seized in Baghdad two months ago were recently released.