Friday, June 19, 2009

Iraq karate coach shot and killed!

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The coach of the Iraqi national karate team has been shot dead by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul, police say.

It is not known why Izzat Abdullah was attacked, although sports officials and athletes were regularly targeted at the height of the Iraqi insurgency.

The US commander in Iraq suggested last week that troops might delay their imminent departure from Mosul because of continued insurgent attacks.

But Gen Ray Odierno now says he feels "more comfortable" with the situation.

US troops will now pull back from the centre of Mosul by the end of June as scheduled, he confirmed this week.

President Barack Obama has ordered that all US combat troops be withdrawn from Iraqi urban areas by 30 June, and should return home by the end of 2011.

Mr Abdullah, 45, was shot near his Mosul home.

Iraqi sports officials said he spent his time training young competitors as well as coaching the national team.

A former karate champion himself, Mr Abdullah reportedly moved to Mosul from Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, an Iraqi Olympic official told the Associated Press.

His funeral took place on Friday, AP reported.

Four members of the previous Iraqi National Olympic Committee remain missing after they were kidnapped in July 2006.

Months earlier members of the Iraqi tae-kwon-do team were seized while travelling to their training centre. Their remains were found a year later.

Others who have been killed since the invasion of Iraq include the Olympic cycling coach, national wrestling coach, a soccer federation member and a prominent volleyball player, the Associated Press news agency says.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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