Iraq confirms that 3 US citizens missing in Baghdad were kidnapped

 A file photograph showing US troops patrolling in the streets of Baghdad, Iraq . According to media reports on Jan 17, 2016, three US citizens have been abducted by unidentified militia members in Baghdad.
A file photograph showing US troops patrolling in the streets of Baghdad, Iraq . According to media reports on Jan 17, 2016, three US citizens have been abducted by unidentified militia members in Baghdad. PHOTO: EPA

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - Iraq confirmed on Monday (Jan 18) that three United States nationals reported missing in Baghdad were kidnapped.

The three Americans were invited last Friday to a private event in the Dora district south-east of the capital when they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen, said Mr Mohammed al-Karbouli who sits on the security and defense panel of Iraq's Parliament.

Unknown gunmen seized the trio from a private apartmen, added Mr Karbouli. It was not immediately clear if their motives were political or criminal.

Another member of the same panel, Mr Iskandar Witwit, gave a similar account, saying that they were kidnapped from the Sihha apartment buildings in the Dora district.

Mr Witwit said the three were employed by a private company and two of them also have Iraqi citizenship.

Dora was a bastion of the insurgency against the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and the site of intense sectarian bloodletting that peaked around 2006-2007. Federal police now run most checkpoints there.

The Iraqi police and US authorities earlier said three US nationals had been reported missing in Baghdad. The police said it was investigating reports they were kidnapped.

Iraqi security forces set up checkpoints early on Monday in the Dora neighbourhood south-east of Baghdad.

"We have no clear indication about the circumstances of their disappearance," a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Two Iraqi army helicopters were seen hovering over the district while police SUVs patrolled the streets.

The US State Department said on Sunday it was working with the Iraqi authorities to locate Americans reported missing, without confirming that they had been kidnapped.

Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya reported on Sunday that three US nationals had been kidnapped in Dora on Friday.

Citing its own sources, it said the Americans were "contractors or trainers" employed by US companies at the Baghdad airport.