BAGHDAD — Insurgents continued a campaign against non-Iraqis inside the country, killing three foreign pilgrims Monday, just days after kidnapping four Western aid workers.
Gunmen also killed two Iraqi journalists working with the state-owned Al Iraqiya television station as they left a restaurant in west Baghdad after lunch. Five restaurant employees were wounded in the attack.
The driver for Baghdad's mayor was also killed in a drive-by shooting, and in separate incidents officials of two Sunni Muslim political groups were killed Monday, according to police and news agencies.
U.S. and Iraqi officials had predicted a surge in attacks by the Sunni-led insurgency with the aim of discouraging participation in the Dec. 15 parliamentary election. After largely boycotting the Jan. 30 election, Sunni Arabs have begun to take part in the current campaign.
The Shiite Muslim pilgrims attacked Monday morning, at least some of whom were Britons of South Asian descent, were in a minivan heading from Baghdad to the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala when they were ambushed by gunmen just south of the capital.
Three members of the party, including a woman, were wounded. They were treated in a downtown Baghdad hospital but later moved.
Among those killed were Saifuddin Makai, 39, and Husain Mohammedali, 50, both businessmen from the London area, friends and associates told Associated Press.
About a dozen Shiite pilgrims with British passports, one of them a preteen girl, were seen arriving from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at Baghdad's international airport Friday wearing traditional South Asian attire. But it wasn't immediately clear whether they were the group attacked Monday.
Those pilgrims said they were determined to visit shrines of Shiite saints despite the perils of the road, which passes through an area known to taxi and bus drivers as the "triangle of death."
Authorities were tight-lipped, meanwhile, about the four kidnapped Westerners -- an American, two Canadians and a Briton.
They work for an aid organization that opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. An official with the organization reached by telephone asked that the group's name not be published for fear of further endangering the hostages' lives.
Diplomats and security officials in Iraq typically prefer to quietly contact kidnappers and work with sources to gain the release of hostages.
"The best strategy is to keep it low-key while the initial contacts are made," an official with the group said.
One of the kidnapping victims was identified over the weekend by his wife as Norman Kember, a prominent activist from northwest London.
More than 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by insurgents and criminal gangs since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Kidnapped journalists and aid workers have often been released unharmed. But insurgents killed Irish-born Margaret Hassan, the local head of Care International, after she was captured a year ago.