42 university students kidnapped in Iraq
Baghdad, April 6, 2008
Gunmen kidnapped 42 male university students near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, police said, in one of the biggest mass abductions since the US-led invasion in 2003.
A police spokesman for Nineveh province, where Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, lies, said the gunmen had stopped two buses in the village of Al-Jirin.
"One of the buses managed to flee. The second bus was stopped and 42 male students were seized," said spokesman Khalid Abdul-Sattar.
No group claimed responsibility but suspicion will fall on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, which has regrouped in northern provinces after being pushed out of western Anbar province and Baghdad by a series of military offensives.
The police spokesman said three students on the bus that escaped were wounded. The kidnappers loaded all the males from the second bus onto trucks but left behind three female students.
"We have information that the kidnappers took the trucks to the village of Al Jarradi," the spokesman said. "Our forces are deployed there and searching for them."
The buses were taking students to university in Mosul, police said, where classes were due to restart after a weekend break.-Reuters