Briton and two Americans kidnapped in Iraq

A Briton a two Americans were kidnapped in Baghdad today, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

A Briton a two Americans were kidnapped in Baghdad today, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

The victims, thought to be civilians, were snatched by gunmen in a dawn raid on the building they were staying in, said ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abdel-Rahman.

There was no immediate information about their identities.

The incident, the latest in a series of kidnappings involving foreigners in Iraq, took place in the al-Mansour district of the city.

No shots were fired as the gunmen stormed the building and bundled their targets into a van.

A police official who asked that his name not be used said a car was missing from the house.

He said the trio were apparently in the garden when the attack took place and that there was no sign of any fighting.

The al-Mansour district in western Baghdad is regarded as relatively safe.

Many foreign nationals live in the area and a number of foreign contractors including security firms are based there.

The hostages are the latest victims of an upsurge in kidnappings of foreigners in Iraq by insurgents.

Today’s incident takes the total number of foreigners seized since April this year to around 80. Of those kidnapped, 23 have been killed.

At least four other westerners are being held by kidnappers in Iraq at the moment.

Two Italian women working for a humanitarian group in Iraq were kidnapped in Baghdad earlier this month.

Witnesses said armed men stormed the offices of A Bridge for Baghdad, abducting Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, both 29, and two Iraqis.

French journalists Christian Chesnot, 37, of Radio France Internationale and Georges Malbrunot, 41, of French daily Le Figaro were abducted while working in Iraq in August.

Many westerners in the capital have armed guards although they are no guarantee against attack in a city which has seen an upsurge in violence recently.

Insurgents have even been able to launch attacks in the heavily-guarded Green Zone, where the US-led coalition has its headquarters.

On Sunday, militants attacked the area with their biggest mortar and rocket barrage to date.

On Tuesday at least 47 people were killed in a car bombing in the city aimed at would-be police recruits, the deadliest single strike in the capital in six months.

Briton Gary Teeley, who was held hostage for six days in Iraq after being seized at gunpoint by 20 or 30 militants, said today he was “continuously under a lot of mental strain” when he was held captive.

“You don’t get a lot of sleep. Obviously there’s a lot of permutations running through your head – what will happen to you?” he told BBC Radio Five Live.

“Obviously you are thinking of family back home because the control’s obviously not in your hands, it’s in other people’s hands. It’s mentally very tough.”

He told how he was subjected to mock executions, with a gun put to his head and a hand grenade put in front of his face.

He was “ecstatic” on his release but said he would never return to Iraq again unless it was on a military base.

An estimated 15,000 contract workers from around the world are currently helping to rebuild war-torn Iraq.

Many British civilians are drawn there by the financial benefits of working in the fields of security, engineering or telecommunications, with guarantees of salaries paying three or four more times than they would receive at home.

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq are worth more than 100 billion dollars, with up to 300 companies vying for business, including oil companies such as Shell and ExxonMobil and arms manufacturers like US giant Raytheon.

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