Americans briefly held by Iraqi forces: officials

Americans briefly held by Iraqi forces: officials

BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
Americans briefly held by Iraqi forces: officials

A member of the Iraqi special troops takes part in the celebrations for the 91th anniversary of the Iraqi Army at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone January 6, 2012. REUTERS photo

Four US embassy security staff were held by Iraqi forces Thursday over "suspicious" activity in central Baghdad but were released shortly after following an apparent misunderstanding, officials said.

The two men and two women were driving a BMW with local licence plates, rather than diplomatic registration, and were all wearing flak jackets and armed with pistols and automatic weapons, said Baghdad provincial governor Salah Abdulrazzaq.

"They (security forces) stopped them, they checked their (personal ID) badges, they found them suspicious," he told AFP, adding the group had been stopped at 9:00 am (0600 GMT) in Baghdad's central Sharchiyah neighbourhood.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the group made up of embassy staff were briefly stopped, but released shortly afterwards when their identification badges were verified.

The four were not charged with any offence.

US forces completed their withdrawal on December 18 from Iraq, a country where there were once nearly 170,000 troops on more than 500 bases.

Green Zone,