<!--:es-->Gunmen kidnap at least 50 at Iraq security firm<!--:-->

Gunmen kidnap at least 50 at Iraq security firm

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Gunmen in camouflage uniforms stormed the offices of a private Iraqi security company and kidnapped as many as 50 employees, police said Wednesday. The abduction came hours after U.S. and Iraqi patrols discovered 24 bodies in various parts of the capital.

Iraq’s Shiite vice president, meanwhile, signed a presidential decree calling parliament into session, breaking a major logjam that had delayed the creation of a unity government that U.S. officials hope can curb the unrelenting violence so their forces can start going home in the summer.

“He signed the decree today. I expect the first session to be held on Sunday or by the end of next week at the latest,” said Nadim al-Jabiri, head of one of seven Shiite parties that make up the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest bloc in parliament.

Unidentified attackers hit the al-Rawafid Security Co. at 4:30 p.m. and forced the workers into seven vehicles, including several white SUV’s, said Interior Ministry official Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi. The company is located in Zayouna, a volatile mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad.

Al-Rawafid is one of dozens of companies providing protection for businesses and other clients in the violence-plagued country. One of its main clients is Iraqna, a cell phone company owned by Egyptian-giant Orascom.

Its employees include many former members of Saddam Hussein’s armed forces, and its offices are in Zayouna, a volatile mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood in east Baghdad.