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Prominent Iraqi boxer snatched off dangerous Baghdad Street

Prominent Iraqi boxer snatched off dangerous Baghdad Street

Gunmen kidnapped a well-known Shiite boxer as he was driving on a dangerous street in central Baghdad, police and sports officials said Friday, the latest in a series of attacks against sports figures amid spiraling sectarian violence.
Hassan Hadi, 42 and the father of two children, was en route to a spare parts store that he owns on Monday when the attackers intercepted his car and abducted him, police said.
Police said the boxer was seized while traveling on Haifa Street, a Sunni insurgent stronghold on the west bank of the Tigris River about two kilometers (a mile) north of the Green Zone, site of the U.S. and British embassies as well as the Iraqi government headquarters.
The area was the site of fierce clashes between insurgents and U.S.-Iraqi forces just two days later.
An official with the Youth and Sports Ministry said no ransom had been demanded and stressed that Hadi was not linked with any political party.
"We condemn the kidnapping of this boxer and we call on the kidnappers to free him," ministry spokesman Hassan Qadim said. "Hadi is a sports symbol and his abduction is aimed at stopping the sport in its tracks."
Hadi fought for al-Zawraa, Iraq's biggest sports club.
Athletes and sports officials have increasingly become targets of threats, kidnappings and assassination attempts, either as part of retaliatory violence between Shiites and Sunnis or for ransom.
In December, gunmen abducted the Sunni head of one of Iraq's leading soccer clubs.
A blind Iraqi athlete and Paralympics coach also were kidnapped last year but were released unharmed after sports officials said their abductors determined neither was linked to the Sunni insurgency.
An Iraqi international soccer referee also was abducted in the fall as he left the soccer association's offices. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a $200,000 ransom.


Updated : 2021-04-18 16:17 GMT+08:00