Three Americans, widely believed but not confirmed to be contractors, were abducted from war-torn Baghdad, Iraq on Friday, Jan. 14.
The missing Americans were taken from the Dora neighborhood of southern Baghdad. That area has become an increasingly Sunni Muslim neighborhood in recent years.
The spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, Scott Bolz, confirmed on Sunday that several Americans had “gone missing.” Bolz said “We are working in full cooperation with Iraqi authorities to locate the missing Americans.”
U.S. State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby also acknowledged to an Arab media outlet on Sunday, Jan. 16, that the U.S. government is aware of reports that three American citizens are missing in Iraq.
“The safety and security of American citizens overseas is our highest priority. We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals,” Kirby said.
An Iraqi security official told CNN that two of the three missing are dual Iraqi-American citizens, and that the third is an American. The same official also said that the men “were grabbed by a group of gunmen from an apartment” in Dora late Friday afternoon.
The abducted men were reportedly taken away in a several-vehicle convoy.
“A company filed a report Sunday about three of its staff going missing two days ago. They are American contractors. We are looking into this report,” the Iraqi security official said.
An Iraqi police official told AFP that he was informed that the kidnappers were “militiamen wearing military uniforms.”
Over the course of the past several months, dozens of foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq. ISIS as well as Shia and Sunni groups have carried out the kidnappings. In addition to the abduction of foreign nationals, Iraqi citizens have also been kidnapped recently, although most of those incidents appeared to have criminal rather than terroristic motivations.Lori Lowenthal Marcus