updated 12/23/2005 11:33:11 AM ET 2005-12-23T16:33:11

A Sudanese diplomat and five other Sudanese were kidnapped Friday as they left prayers at a mosque in Baghdad, the country's Foreign Ministry said Friday. One of those kidnapped was able to briefly telephone the country's mission after he was taken.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim said that among the six kidnap victims were four employees at the country's diplomatic mission in Baghdad, including the one diplomat, identified as a second secretary, Abdel Moneam Mohammad Tom.

One employee managed to call the Sudanese mission briefly on his cell phone immediately after the kidnapping and talk to the charge d'affaires. But so far, there has been no contact between the kidnappers and the Sudanese government, Ibrahim said in a telephone call to the Associated Press in Cairo.

"We don't know who they are or what their demands are," the spokesman said.

The undersecretary at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Labeed Abbawi, told the AP in a phone interview that the ministry had not heard of such an abduction.

But another Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said the abduction could be linked to Sudanese government efforts to help rival Iraqi factions reconcile.

Last month, a top adviser to Sudanese President Omar Hassan el-Bashir joined Arab League Secretary General Am Moussa in arranging an Iraqi reconciliation conference in Cairo. The adviser, Mustafa Osman Ismail, was also planning to lead a similar effort for a larger reconciliation conference in Baghdad in February or March.

On Thursday, the Sudanese government had welcomed the results of the Iraqi election.

Gunmen have kidnapped more than 240 foreigners and killed at least 39 since the Iraqi insurgency began after U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

The kidnapping of Arab diplomats has been particularly embarrassing to the Iraqi government, which has been pressing Arab states to return their ambassadors to Baghdad.

Arab governments have been reluctant to raise their diplomatic missions to full strength, despite promising to do so in an Arab League resolution, because of the insecurity.

In July, two Algerian diplomats and an Egyptian diplomat were abducted and killed in Baghdad. The Al-Qaida in Iraq group claimed responsibility.

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