Six of 30 Olympic Committee Hostages Freed in Iraq

Six of more than 30 people seized at an Iraqi Olympic Committee meeting were released in Baghdad on Sunday, while a British soldier was killed during a raid in southern Iraq.

The six hostages were left blindfolded and unharmed in the capital's Baladiyat neighborhood, Iraq's Sport Journalist Union said. There was no word on the other hostages, including the Olympic National Committee chairman, Ahmed al-Hijiya.

CountryWatch: Iraq

A former member of Iraq's Olympic committee, Nashat Mahir al-Salman, 75, was the first abductee dropped in the neighborhood, followed hours later by Baghdad soccer coach Ahmed Subhi and four security guards, the sports union said.

The victims were seized Saturday in a daylight attack in the heart of Baghdad. Gunmen blindfolded and handcuffed participants and bodyguards, hustled them into about a dozen vehicles and sped away. The bodies of two bodyguards were found dumped on a street.

The International Olympic Committee in Geneva condemned "these acts against the sport community" and called for the immediate release of the hostages.

The coach of Iraq's national wrestling team was killed Thursday in Baghdad.

Gunmen on Sunday also attacked the detention wing of a hospital northeast of Baghdad in a daring daylight raid and freed more than a dozen wounded prisoners, police said.

Three of the estimated 13 prisoners were recaptured after the attack, which occurred around 2 p.m. at the main hospital in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said.

Four policemen were killed in the attack, according to police officials.

The British soldier was killed during an operation in Basra province to capture "those associated with terrorist activities," the British Defense Ministry said. It was the first British death by hostile fire in seven weeks. Another soldier was wounded.

"British soldiers came under small arms fire and two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds," the ministry said. "It is with great regret that we can confirm one of the soldiers has subsequently died of these injuries."

Two suspects were arrested after the exchange of fire.

Britain has about 7,200 troops in southern Iraq, and its military has reported 114 deaths in the country since the war began in 2003.

Southern Iraq, with its overwhelmingly Shiite population, is generally quieter than Baghdad and Sunni areas to the north. But security in Basra deteriorated last year after Shiite militiamen infiltrated the police force.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is scheduled to visit Washington and address Congress, has promised to crack down on lawlessness there.

In Baghdad, a bomb hidden in a trash bag exploded in a commercial area of the Karradah district, killing four people and wounding 21 others, police said.

One person was killed and two were wounded when a bomb exploded near a police patrol in north Baghdad, police said.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, two barbers were killed in a drive-by shooting, police said. Drive-by shootings killed one person in Mosul and another in Muqdadiyah, northeast of the capital. Gunmen also killed a mobile phone company employee in western Baghdad.