Americans kidnapped from interpreter's home in Iraq: official

BAGHDAD - A group of Americans who went missing over the weekend in Iraq were kidnapped from their interpreter's home in Baghdad, according to an Iraqi government intelligence official.

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The kidnapping occurred, the official said, after the Americans were invited into the home of their interpreter in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora. The individuals were then taken to Sadr city, the official said, "after (the kidnapping) all communications and contact stopped in Sadr city."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the press.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed Sunday that "several" Americans have gone missing in Iraq, after local media reported that three Americans had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Scott Bolz said, "We are working in full co-operation with Iraqi authorities to locate the missing Americans."

Bolz did not identify the missing Americans or say what they were doing in Iraq.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said that "due to privacy considerations" he had nothing further to add about the missing Americans. "The safety and security of Americans abroad is our highest priority," Kirby said.

Col. Steve Warren, the Baghdad based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, confirmed that the individuals were civilians.

The comments by U.S. officials came after the Arab news channel, al-Arabiya, citing its own sources, reported that three Americans had been kidnapped by militias in Baghdad.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Kidnappings in Iraq have been carried out by the Islamic State group, Shiite militias and criminal gangs often demanding ransom payments or seeking to resolve workplace disputes.

Following the IS takeover of Iraq's second largest city Mosul and large swaths of territory in the country's north and west, Iraq has witnessed a deterioration in security as government forces were sent to front lines and Shiite militias were empowered to aid in the fight following the collapse of the Iraqi military.

Last month a Qatari hunting party was kidnapped in Iraq's south by unidentified gunmen and their whereabouts are still unknown. In September 18 Turkish workers were kidnapped from their construction site in Baghdad's Sadr city by masked men in military uniforms. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi blamed organized crime for the kidnapping. The workers were released later that month.


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