The U.S. Government citing the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has confirmed reports coming in from Iraq about the disappearance of “several” Americans in the country. Initial reports say that the missing Americans could have been the victims of kidnapping. First reports of Americans being kidnapped was reported by Arabic news channel Al-Arabiya on Sunday. The kidnappings reportedly happened over the weekend and efforts are on to locate the individuals. The U.S. State Department confirmed the news about the kidnapping and said that they were working with Iraqi officials to try and trace the kidnapped American citizens.
According to CNN, a company for whom the Americans worked for has filed a report about the missing men. Officials have not revealed the name of the company.
While the identity of the kidnapped Americans have not been released, initial reports say that at least three of them were contractors working in Iraq. There is still no confirmation regarding the total number of Americans kidnapped in Iraq. In a statement to Fox News, the U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the following.
“We are aware of reports that 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. Due to privacy considerations, I have nothing further.”
Another statement from Scott Bolz, the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq read the following.
“We are working in full cooperation with Iraqi authorities to locate the missing Americans.”
Meanwhile, an AFP report said that three Americans and their Iraqi translator were kidnapped on Sunday by armed men who were wearing military uniform. This was revealed to them by an Iraqi police colonel who said he wished to remain anonymous. The police officer was however unsure about the kind of work the Americans were doing in Iraq.
“We don’t know what their work is,” the colonel said of the Americans.
An ABC News report adds that officials are at this time unsure if the kidnapped Americans were security contractors or other contractors working in Iraq and helping rebuild the war torn country. While an official said they were treating the reports as a possible kidnapping incident, there has been no reports of anyone witnessing the same.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, a senior spokesperson from the Joint Operations Command in Baghdad revealed that the three Americans were in fact Iraqis who had acquired U.S. citizenship.
The report of the kidnapping of the Americans come just a few days after Iraq saw a marked increase in violence near the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. The increase in violence also comes after the Islamic State lost control over the city of Ramadi which was liberated by Iraqi forces last month. Over 50 people have been killed in several attacks across Baghdad in the past week alone.
Over a decade after the U.S. led war that deposed the country’s then ruler Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains politically unstable. The civil war like conditions in the country eventually led to the rise of the Islamic State which now controls a major part of Iraq as well as Northern Syria. The Islamic State has in the past executed several Americans who were kidnapped in a similar manner. There are fears that the men suspected to be kidnapped could end up meeting the same fate as that of several other American citizens who were brutally murdered by Islamic State fighters. The Islamic State has a history of kidnapping foreign workers and journalists and demanding ransom money in exchange of their release.
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