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Gunmen kidnap deputy Iraqi health minister - aide

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Nov 19 (Reuters) Gunmen in camouflage uniforms kidnapped an Iraqi deputy health minister from his home today, his aide and a neighbour said.

Ammar al-Saffar, a member of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party, was taken away by gunmen wearing army uniforms accompanied by three men in suits, the neighbour and the aide, who both declined to be identified, told Reuters.

The neighbour said he did not witness the kidnapping but was told about it by Saffar's guards.

Details were sketchy, but it appeared to be another act of violence of the kind plaguing Iraq daily and showed the ability of armed groups to attack even senior government figures.

Saffar, who spent years in exile in Britain where his family still lives, has served as a deputy health minister in successive Iraqi administrations since the U S-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

The neighbour said the gunmen arrived just after sunset in three or four vehicles at the home Saffar shared with his sister.

The abduction followed yesterday's killing in Baghdad of a leading member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of Dawa's allies in the government, and his wife in what appeared to be a sectarian assassination.

REUTERS SP KP2230

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