Yesterday I listened to a bit of wacky Sean Hannity's radio show, in which he rather desperately demanded that his followers "push back" against any attempts to get the U.S. military out of Iraq "until victory is achieved," (among other things, including pushing back against universal healthcare...) Good luck with that argument, Sean, with Iraq in this kind of a mess.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen clad in Iraqi National Police uniforms kidnapped between 100 and 150 people at a government research institute in Baghdad Tuesday morning, forcing the minister of higher education to order universities closed until security improves.
The daytime raid involved up to 80 gunmen and targeted the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research -- Scholarships and Cultural Relations Directorate building, Minister Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili told parliament.
He said he had "no choice but to stop the teaching in the universities in Baghdad, adding he is "not ready to see more professors get killed."
The directorate had a guard force that numbered about 20, with a handful of weapons among them -- not enough to resist the abductors -- al-Ajili said.
Authorities deplored the act, and the United Nations issued a condemnation.
The kidnappers surrounded the four-story building along Nidhal Street with at least 20 vehicles, taking captive guards, employees and civilians, al-Ajili said.
"They took 100 to 150 people, including employees from different ranks starting from manager and down to the cleaning workers and normal citizens," the minister said.
The gunmen separated the men from the women, locking the women in a room, while loading the men into vehicles before making their escape, al-Ajili said.
Al-Ajili said he had sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last week, asking for better protection for universities and education buildings. The defense and interior ministers had rejected earlier requests for 800 university guards, he said.
The U.N. secretary-general's special representative in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, called the kidnapping "a nefarious crime," saying it "could dangerously and negatively effect progress and development in Iraq, a country long known for its literary and scientific tradition."
Qazi urged Iraqi officials "to immediately and inexorably pursue those responsible, free the abductees and ensure the sanctity of higher education."
Tags: Bush, News, News and politics, Iraq