Several people released hours after being seized by kidnappers in military uniforms.
The Iraqi Red Crescent, which is part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is the only Iraqi aid agency working in all of the country’s 18 provinces and has around 1,000 staff and 200,000 volunteers in the country.
Men dressed in military uniforms took dozens of shop owners and bystanders from a commercial area in central Baghdad on Thursday.
|Blair, left, made a surprise visit to Baghdad
where he met the Iraqi prime minister
Tony Blair met with Nouri al-Maliki, his Iraqi counterpart, in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad on Sunday and vowed not to let democracy be destroyed by “those who wish to live in hatred”.
Speaking at a news conference after the meeting Blair said that he and the Iraqi prime minister had discussed the need for national reconciliation and the building-up of Iraq’s security forces to fight the Shia-Sunni sectarian violence that has pushed the country close to all-out civil war.
Blair pledged his support to the Iraqi government saying: “We stand ready to support you in every way that we can so that in time the Iraq government and the Iraqi people can take full responsibility for their affairs.”
Asked about concerns that Syria and Iran were not doing enough to help in Iraq, Blair answered: “It’s important that we exercise all the pressure and authority that we have to make sure that all countries in the region are supporting Iraq.
“There’s a very strong obligation which is set out in the UN resolution for all countries in the region to be supportive of the Iraqi prime minister and his government … and not undermine them.”
Blair had arrived in Iraq after a visit to Egypt as part of a tour of the region.