Iran to Protest over US Arrests in Baghdad

A02469541.jpgIran says it will make a formal protest to Iraq on Wednesday over the apparent arrest and detention of seven of its nationals by US troops in Baghdad. The men were seized from one of the city’s main hotels and led away blindfolded and in handcuffs.

The Iranian embassy in Baghdad says the men were experts helping to rebuild electricity power stations in Iraq.

The US military declined to comment, saying that the action was part of an operation that had not been completed.

The group was detained at the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel. Video footage showed soldiers leading the men out of the building.

Other soldiers were seen carrying what appeared to be luggage and a laptop computer bag.

The arrests came shortly after a speech by US President George W Bush in which he claimed Iran interferes in Iraq’s affairs.

US President Bush stated that he had authorized his military commanders in Iraq to confront Iranians in Iraq.

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that US power in Iraq was on the verge of collapse and this would lead to “a huge vacuum” which Iran would be willing to fill.

In January, five Iranians were kidnapped during a raid by the US troops on Iran’s consulate general in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. The five remain in US custody.

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