US and Iraq search for Americans kidnapped in Baghdad
BAGHDAD – Agence France-PresseUnited States and Iraqi authorities were searching on Jan. 18 for three Americans who were kidnapped in Baghdad, the latest group of foreign nationals abducted in recent months.
Kidnappers have recently seized Qataris and Turks, but it has been years since Americans were abducted, and Iraqis have suffered the most from kidnappers seeking ransoms or to settle scores.
Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi condemned the rise in “cases of foreigners being kidnapped in Iraq,” saying it would harm the country’s relations with other states.
“The kidnapping of the American citizens yesterday, and before them the Qatari hunters, whose fate is still unknown, without a doubt indicates the increasing work of organized gangs in Iraq,” Juburi said in a statement on Jan. 18.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the day before that: “We are aware of reports that American citizens are missing in Iraq.”
“We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals,” Kirby added, without providing details about their number or the circumstances of their disappearance.
An Iraqi police colonel said on condition of anonymity that three Americans and an Iraqi translator were kidnapped in southern Baghdad. The colonel said on Jan. 18 that the search was at this point mainly an intelligence effort.
The officer earlier said that according to information he had received, the kidnappers were militiamen wearing military uniforms.
“We don’t know what their work is,” the colonel said of the kidnapped Americans.
The three were invited on Friday to a private event in the Dora district southeast of the capital when they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen, told Mohammed al-Karbouli, who sits on the security and defense panel of parliament, Reuters.
Another member of the same panel, Iskandar Witwit, gave a similar account, saying that they were kidnapped from the Sihha apartment buildings in the Dora district.