At 6.30am (0330 GMT) on Thursday, armed men opened fire on a minibus that had gone to pick up a Turkish businessman from the Bakhan Hotel in central Baghdad.

All six on board were killed, police Lieutenant Bassam al-Abid said.

The businessman, identified as Abdulkadir Tanrikulu, was captured by at least 10 men.

Five of the dead were local Iraqi employees working for the businessman, who runs a construction company, al-Abid said. The other victim was the driver of the minibus.
 
The assailants carried the bodies off the bus and drove off in the vehicle and two other cars, al-Abid said.

Egyptian seized

A Turkish news channel said the construction company was working in Iraq with the US.

Iraqis and foreigners working for
US forces are a favoured target

An employee of the hotel, who gave only his first name, Alaa, said the businessman has been in Iraq for about a year.

Elsewhere, an Egyptian was seized around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, local police and party officials said on Thursday.

 

"Egyptian Abd al-Khalik Ahmad, 43, who worked at a service station, was kidnapped on Thursday in front of his workplace by armed men who arrived in two cars, some of whom wore uniforms of the New Iraqi Army," Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Ahmad said.

 

Millions stolen

 

In a separate development on Thursday, armed men stole millions of dollars worth of Iraqi dinars after breaking into a bank in Ramadi, the troubled capital of western Anbar province.

 

Two aides of Ayat Allah al-Sistani
have been found dead this week

The men broke into Al-Rashid Bank and stole $13.5 million worth of Iraqi dinars.

 

"At 11am (0800 GMT), a group broke into the Al-Rashid Bank and locked all the employees in a room and took all the money from the bank before escaping," a police captain said.

 

Against this backdrop of continued unrest, it was revealed on Thursday that armed men have killed two aides to Shia cleric Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, a senior official working with him said.

Cleric Mahmud al-Madahaini was killed on Wednesday in Salman Pak, an ancient town two kilometres south of Baghdad, along with his son and four guards. Halim al-Afghani, another aide working in Sistani's office in Najaf, was also found dead.

Iraqi officials have not confirmed the reports.

Other incidents

 

Elsewhere too, there has been no let-up in violence. In the city of Hyit west of Ramadi, two US military vehicles were destroyed in a rocket attack on Thursday, Aljazeera reported. US helicopters were seen evacuating wounded US soldiers.

 

And in the Haqlaniya area, west of Ramadi, an explosive device went off near a US military patrol, destroying two military vehicles.

 

Aljazeera also reported that US forces have detained Shaikh Ahmad al-Jiburi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars and imam of Al-Khashab Mosque in al-Huriya neighbourhood, northwest of Baghdad

 

The raid damaged his house and the mosque.

 

Furthermore, in the Buhriz neighbourhood, south of Baquba, Imad Majid, a member of the Iraqi Communist Party, was shot dead by armed men.

 

While in al-Aziziya, south of Baghdad, four Iraqi police officers were wounded in an attack targeting their patrol.