U.S. Forces Detain Six Iranian Ministry Workers Following Raid on Baghdad Hotel

U.S. troops raided a Baghdad hotel Tuesday night and detained about 10 people. A U.S.-funded radio station said the group included six members of an Iranian delegation here to negotiate contracts with the Iraqis.

The Iranian Embassy said seven Iranians — an embassy employee and six members of a delegation from Iran's Electricity Ministry — were staying at the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, which American forces entered late Tuesday.

Videotape shot by Associated Press Television News showed the Americans leading about 10 men, blindfolded and handcuffed, out of the hotel in central Baghdad.

Other U.S. soldiers left the hotel carrying what appeared to be luggage and at least one briefcase and a laptop computer bag.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver declined to comment, saying the action was part of an ongoing operation.

The Web site of Radio Sawa, an Arabic language station financed by the United States, said the Iranian delegation was in Baghdad to negotiate contracts on electric power stations. The report said the Iranians were detained and taken to an unknown location.

An Iranian diplomat told The Associated Press that the Iranian Embassy had notified Iraqi authorities about the Radio Sawa report. The diplomat refused to give his name.

Tension between the United States and Iran is running high, with the Americans accusing Tehran of arming Shiite militias in Iraq, a charge the Iranians deny.

On Jan. 11, U.S. troops detained five Iranians in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. U.S. authorities have said the five included the operations chief and other members of Iran's elite Quds Force, which is accused of arming and training Iraqi militants.

The five remain in U.S. custody.