Five Britons were abducted from a government building in Baghdad today in a brazen kidnapping by gunmen dressed in police uniforms.
The victims were four bodyguards and a British technology adviser working at the Finance Ministry for BearingPoint, a US consultancy firm.
This evening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London confirmed that the five missing people were British and that diplomatic staff in Baghdad were urgently seeking their release.
“I can confirm that a group of five British nationals were abducted this morning at 0850 UK time, which is 1150 local time, in an incident at the Finance Ministry in central Baghdad,” a spokesman said. “Officials from the British embassy in Baghdad are in urgent contact with the Iraqi authorities to establish the facts and to try to secure a swift resolution.”
Hope they are found quickly.
There are conflicting reports about exactly how Tuesday’s abduction took place.
Witnesses said it was carried out by what appeared to be a police unit.
The street was sealed off at both ends and the kidnappers, in police camouflage uniforms, walked straight past guards at the finance ministry building on Palestine Street, the witnesses said.
A police source told the BBC that dozens of police vehicles were used in the operation.
The BBC’s Paul Wood in Baghdad says that if such reports are true, it could point to the involvement of a renegade police unit, possibly special commandos.
While it has been possible in the past for criminals or militants to hire police uniforms and vehicles, he says, the scale of this operation suggests real police involvement.