Gunmen disguised in military uniforms seized more than 100 men from the Iraqi Higher Education Ministry’s Research Directorate in central Baghdad. The gunmen arrived at the institute in a fleet of more than 20 vehicles and stormed into the research directorate, where the ordered the women into one room, before seizing more than 100 men, including the employees of the research institute, guards and visitors to the building.

Such events have become a daily occurrence in Baghdad, in spite of the security measures deployed by the American and Iraqi forces. Mass kidnappings like these suggest that the streets of Baghdad are far from secure and violence in this country is continuing unabated, amidst the efforts taken by the government to contain it. Academics and researchers have been frequent targets in Iraq, since they are blamed for the brain drain in the country. Abd Dhiab, Higher Education Minister of Iraq, said that teachings in all Baghdad universities would be halted until the security situation improves.

Many residents of Baghdad believe that mass kidnappings like this one are carried out by Shia-Muslim dominated security forces or take place with their consent. However, the interior ministry, which is controlled by the Shiites, has denied this allegation, stating that they have no connection with kidnapping cells or death squads operated by Shia militias. An eye witness of this incident told the reporters that two police patrols, who were watching the kidnappings, did nothing to stop it.

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