Three female Iranian pilgrims who were kidnapped north of Baghdad have been freed but police are still searching for seven male Iranian companions who were abducted by armed men, a regional governor said Sunday.
The Iranians were traveling in a minibus between Balad and Samarra, north of Baghdad, to visit Shi'ite Muslim holy shrines on Thursday when they were held up at gunpoint by several armed men, said Salahuddin Gov. Hamed Hammoud Shightay.
The gunmen killed the bus driver and one of the Iranian men who protested before tying up and taking away the others, Shightay said.
Police found the women late Saturday after they had been set free outside a nearby remote village called Ain al-Faras, but the whereabouts of the seven Iranian men was unclear, said the governor. The women accused their kidnappers of stealing their money and jewelry.
The Iranians had traveled to Iraq to attend this week's Ashoura commemorations, which marked the 7th century death of revered Shi'ite martyr Imam Hussein.