Gunmen kidnap Iraqi coach for blind athletes

November 1, 2006 21:54


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Gunmen abducted a man who coached blind athletes and the head of Iraq's national basketball federation on Wednesday, police said, the latest in a wave of kidnappings targeting sports figures. Lt. Ali Mohsin said men driving four SUVs drove up to a youth club on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad Wednesday afternoon, and seized Khalid Nejim, the basketball federation chief who also was a coach for the national basketball team, and Issam Khalef, who coached blind athletes. While Nejim, 50, who is sighted, resisted the abductors, Khalef, who is blind and also serves as the team captain, went with his captors quietly, said Qahtan al-Namei, chief of Iraq's Paralympics Federation. He said it appeared only the coaches were taken because they were Sunnis, while the rest were Shi'ite. He said the kidnappers, who carried automatic weapons and wore no masks, had not demanded a ransom or otherwise contacted the federation.

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