Earlier today some 80 armed gunmen dressed as interior ministry commandos stormed a research institute in Baghdad, kidnapping
between 100 and 150 at least 50 people, some of whom were apparently released. The incident follows a series of attacks on academics and prompted Iraq’s higher education minister to close all universities until security is improved. (That order was later rescinded.)
Gunmen today kidnapped up to 150 scientists and staff members from a Baghdad research institute.
The gunmen - wearing interior ministry commando uniforms - arrived at the institute, beneath the ministry of higher education in the religiously-mixed Karrada area, in a fleet of 20 vehicles at around 9.30am local time (0630 GMT), authorities said.
Iraq’s higher education minister, Abed Theyab, instantly ordered all universities to be closed until security was improved, saying he was “not ready to see more professors get killed”.
“I have only one choice, which is to suspend classes at universities,” he told the Iraqi parliament.
He said the mass kidnapping had been “a quick operation”, taking between 10 and 15 minutes, with the gunmen moving throughout the four-storey institute building.