Diplomats warned to flee or be killed

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s most feared terror group warned foreign diplomats yesterday to flee the country after announcing it will put to death two kidnapped Moroccan Embassy employees.

Insurgents killed 11 Iraqi security troops and an American soldier in separate attacks.

The warning came in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq, which also claimed responsibility for the July kidnap-slaying of two envoys from Algeria and one from Egypt as well as the abduction and beheading of many other foreigners.

On Thursday, another Internet statement attributed to al Qaeda said the two Moroccans had been condemned to death. There was no indication yesterday they had been killed.

“We are renewing our threat to those so-called diplomatic missions who have insisted on staying in Baghdad and have not yet realized the repercussions of such a challenge to the will of the mujahideen,” yesterday’s statement said. “Let them know that there is no difference in our judgment between the head of a diplomatic mission and the lowest-level employee.”

The al Qaeda threat appeared aimed at undermining support for the U.S.-backed Iraqi government within the Arab and Islamic worlds. In addition to the Egyptian and Algerian diplomats, senior envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain escaped kidnap attempts in July.

The Moroccans, driver Abderrahim Boualam and embassy staff member Abdelkrim el-Mouhafidi, disappeared Oct. 20 while driving to Baghdad from Jordan, where they had gone to pick up their paychecks.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military announced it killed five senior al Qaeda figures during an air strike Oct. 29 on three buildings in Husaybah, a town near the Syrian border that is a major infiltration route for foreign fighters entering the country.

Iraq was relatively quiet yesterday as the majority Shi’ite Muslim community began celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Sunnis began the three-day holiday Thursday.

Still, the country was not free of violence.

Insurgents fired mortars at an Iraqi police checkpoint near Buhriz, a Sunni Arab stronghold 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, then stormed the position, firing from eight vehicles, police said.

Six policemen were killed and 10 were wounded, according to officials.

Five Interior Ministry commandos died when a roadside bomb exploded close to their convoy near Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

An American soldier from Task Force Baghdad was fatally wounded yesterday when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in east Baghdad, the military said. Another soldier died Thursday near Talil, 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, apparently of non-hostile causes, the military said.

The deaths brought to 2,039 the number of U.S. military service members who have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

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