BASRA, Iraq, (Reuters) – An American civilian contractor and two Iraqi translators have been taken hostage near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a security source and police in Basra said on Friday.
British military spokesman Captain Ollie Pile confirmed a foreign contractor had been seized, but said he could give no further details and could not confirm that two translators had also been kidnapped.
U.S. embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said he was aware of the reports. “We are currently in the process of determining the status and welfare of the American citizen,” he said.
Police said the men were seized at a fake checkpoint near Hartha, around 12 km (8 miles) north of Basra, by gunmen in three cars who forced them from their vehicle.
Four Americans and an Austrian civilian contractor were kidnapped near Basra in mid-November and are still missing.
The American and Austrian were working as guards for a security firm called Crescent Security Group. The 43-truck supply convoy they were guarding was apparently stopped by gunmen masquerading as police.
U.S. television showed a video of the five contractors this week, thought to have been filmed in recent weeks.