Iraq: Former PM Allawi flees alleged ”assassination attempt” as French engineer taken hostage

Published December 5th, 2005 - 10:28 GMT

A French water engineer was abducted from his home in Iraq on Monday, marking the third kidnapping of a Westerner in the past week and a half. According to Iraqi sources, gunmen entered the Baghdad residence of a man identified in preliminary reports as Brent Blanche.


Blanche reportedly worked in the Rusafa water treatment plant in eastern Baghdad.


In a separate incident, US military sources reported that an American soldier was killed on Monday outside of Baghdad when his patrol was hit by a roadside bomb as it traveled east of the capital. 


The attack comes as one day after former Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, was forced to flee an angry crowd of stone throwing Iraqis as he visited the Imam Ali mosque, south of Baghdad in the town of Najaf.


Allawi referred to the incident as an "assassination attempt," saying that shots had been fired from the crowd, which had also been armed with pistols and knives.


"They were planning to kill the whole delegation, or at least me,'' he said, according to the AP.


The incident began when club-wielding men blocked the entrance to the shrine, considered one of the holiest Shiites sites in the country. Allwai's guards responded by firing shots into the air to disperse the angry crowd.


Allawi and his men were then forced to flee the area in their vehicles.


Allawi is seen by some to have been responsible in part for allowing US-led forces to seize control of Najaf from Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr when he was prime minister. Allawi, himself a secular Shiite and former Baath party member under Saddam Hussein, is running for parliament in Iraq's upcoming December 15 parliamentary elections.


A coalition of Shiite religious parties is expected to win the largest share of the 275-seats parliament. 



© 2005 Al Bawaba (

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