150 kidnapped from Iraqi finance ministry, minister says
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
- Iraqi Finance Minister says 150 staff and guards were taken from Baghdad office
- Official blames a "militia force" and holds Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responsible
- Incident occurs amid the ill-health of the president, the conviction of the vice president
(CNN) -- Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.
Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.
"My message to the prime minister, you are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people" al-Essawi said.
Al-Essawi, who has a large base of Sunni support, said he has tried to reach al-Maliki, a Shiite, with no success.
"With a crisis like this of a minister of a key ministry, it's logical for (al-Maliki) to call me and to ask me about what happened," al-Essawi said. "Do you want me to believe that al-Maliki does not know about this action?"
Neither Al-Maliki nor his spokesman could be reached for comment Thursday.
The finance minister called for the safe release of his staff and guards and for a no-confidence vote against al-Maliki in parliament.
"I demand the release of all detainees and I demand an apology of this illegal shameful act." al-Essawi said. "I demand from the Iraqi Parliament to activate a no-confidence vote against a government that does not respect its institutions and its sovereignty"
The kidnappings come as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani heads to Germany under the care of a specialized medical team for treatment, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said. Talabani's office said the president is suffering from hardened arteries, but Othman said he had suffered a stroke.
The kidnappings also follow the troubles of Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who was sentenced to death in September, accused in the deaths of a lawyer and an army general. Al-Hashimi, who is also Sunni and now lives in Istanbul, denies the charges and maintains the accusations were politically motivated.
Read more: More than 2 dozen dead in Iraq violence
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories