This is really bad.
From the Associated Press:
BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad confirms that “several” Americans are missing in Iraq after local media reported that three Americans had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Scott Bolz said Sunday that “We are working in full cooperation with Iraqi authorities to locate the missing Americans.”
His comments came after the Arab news channel, al-Arabiya, citing its own sources, reported that three Americans had been kidnapped by militias in Baghdad.
The incident comes after a week that has seen a deterioration of security in and around the Iraqi capital after months of relative calm.
I’ll update as new information becomes available.
“We are working with the full co-operation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals,” said a state department official.
Unconfirmed reports from Iraqi security circles said three Americans and an Iraqi translator were seized on the southern side of Baghdad.
But US officials did not say how many were held or where they were seized.
An official in Baghdad told CNN three contractors went missing on Friday.
“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 senior security official said.
“The safety and security of American citizens overseas is our highest priority,” said US state department official John Kirby.
If it turns out to be a serious kidnapping, reports the BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad, it would be a major blow to hopes for stability and progress in Iraq.
An attack on a Baghdad shopping centre last week, claimed by so-called Islamic State militants, brought to an end a relative lull in violence that had seen no major bloodshed in the city in months.
Before US forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011, a number of Western citizens were kidnapped and killed by radical Shia groups as well as Sunni militants, but none has been abducted since then, our correspondent says.
Another victory for President Hopey Changey’s foreign policy.