KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Gunmen ambushed a group of Malaysians in Baghdad, killing their Iraqi interpreter, injuring two relief workers and briefly kidnapping three journalists, officials said Sunday. The journalists were later released unharmed.
The Malaysians were attacked early Saturday as they drove in two vans from Baghdad's Sheraton Hotel to a hospital, Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
The gunmen seized the three journalists, who later were released unharmed and taken to a Baghdad hospital, Zukri Valenteno Ali, a spokesman for Malaysia's media team in Iraq, was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama. No other details were available.
Two doctors injured in the attack were recovering in a hospital, Abdullah said. An Iraqi man hired as an interpreter was killed, he said.
Baghdad has been swept by waves of looting and lawlessness since U.S. forces moved in and President Saddam Hussein's hold on power was shattered. The U.S. military and the Iraqis have agreed to joint patrols to restore order.
Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation in Southeast Asia, has opposed the U.S.-led war and accused Western news organizations of biased coverage. The government sent a team of 28 journalists to Iraq last week, entrusting them with providing balanced coverage. The kidnapped journalists were part of that group.
Abdullah said the remaining Malaysian journalists should leave Baghdad, "if the situation is panicky." He urged the United States to "take the initiative" to rein in the chaos.