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Two German engineers kidnapped in Iraq

Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped two German engineers outside their workplace in the Iraqi town of Baiji on Tuesday, police said.
/ Source: Reuters

Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped two German engineers outside their workplace in the Iraqi industrial town of Baiji on Tuesday, police said, the latest abduction of foreigners in Iraq in recent weeks.

At least six gunmen, in two unmarked cars, grabbed the two men just outside where they worked at a detergent plant in an industrial complex around Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, police Lt. Col. Kadhem Abbas said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We have indications that two Germans could have been kidnapped.”

He told reporters in Berlin the ministry had set up a crisis team and was seeking further information from companies. A government official said the two men appeared to be from the eastern city of Leipzig and were working for an Iraqi firm.

The two were seized at around 8:30 a.m., said Abbas, who speaks for the Joint Coordination Center for Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military in the province. The deputy governor of Salahaddin province, Abdullah Jubara, confirmed the report.

Abbas named the two, transliterating their names from Arabic, as Thomas Wischke and Rebiti Drata. No other details were available.

Baiji lies 110 miles north of Baghdad and has seen much insurgent activity in recent months.

No word on journalist
There was also still no word on the fate of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll, who was kidnapped in Baghdad on Jan. 7. Iraqi officials said joint U.S.-Iraqi operations were carried out recently to free her, but they provided no details.

German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff was kidnapped in Iraq in November and freed the following month.

Thousands of people, including hundreds of foreigners, have been abducted in the anarchy that followed the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein, many for ransom but others for political goals.

Most foreign hostages have been released but dozens have been killed. At present, kidnappers are holding an American journalist, Jill Carroll, snatched on Jan. 7, and four peace activists -- two Canadians, an American and a Briton.