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GI is possibly kidnapped in Baghdad

Searchers conduct raids in city as U.S. fatalities mount.

October 24, 2006|Borzou Daragahi | Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi forces scoured the capital Monday night for an American soldier they believed might have been kidnapped, the U.S. military said.

The possible abduction came amid a spate of daring insurgent attacks on American forces in Baghdad. Officials on Monday raised to at least seven the number of American soldiers killed in the capital during a barrage of attacks in the closing hours of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

At least 12 American troops died in Iraq over the weekend, and a total of 86 had been reported killed this month as of Monday.

Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, said an Iraqi intelligence tip led American forces to believe the soldier might have been kidnapped from a point "off a U.S. base," he said.

He declined to disclose further details of the search efforts or the circumstances surrounding the soldier's disappearance.

U.S. and Iraqi forces raided several locations where the soldier might have been taken.

The drone of helicopters could be heard over central Baghdad into the early morning today.

"It's a priority for us to locate him," Withington said. "We won't leave behind a fallen comrade."

For now the soldier has been listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown," a designation used when a commander believes that a soldier's absence is involuntary but cannot determine whether the soldier is missing or dead.

The last two American soldiers kidnapped were taken in an ambush on a U.S. checkpoint south of the capital in June.

Both were killed and their bodies mutilated in an operation claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. military on Monday added one more death to the weekend tally in the capital: a soldier who was killed in southeast Baghdad by a roadside bomb at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Also among those killed Sunday was a U.S. civilian police officer attached to the 89th Military Police Brigade whose vehicle struck an improvised explosive device east of Baghdad.

He was among 500 American police officers in Iraq training and mentoring Iraqi counterparts.

The military also announced the death of a Marine on Saturday in Al Anbar province.

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daragahi@latimes.com

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