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American, 3 Others Kidnapped in Iraq

American, 3 Others Kidnapped in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An American and three other foreigners were kidnapped Monday from their office in western Baghdad during "an exchange of fire," an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The American, an Asian and two non-Iraqi Arabs were seized in the operation, which took place in the capital's Mansour district, said the spokesman, Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

He said first reports indicated shots were fired but he didn't know by whom. He said the victims were believed to be working for a Saudi company but he had no further details.

In September, Militants kidnapped two Americans and a Briton from their home in Mansour. All three were later beheaded. Their abduction was claimed by the al-Qaida linked group led by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who beheaded another American hostage in April.

More than 160 foreigners have been abducted this year by militants with political demands or by criminals seeking ransom. At least 33 captives have been killed.

The abduction came two days after authorities found the decapitated body of another hostage, 24-year-old Japanese backpacker Shosei Koda. Al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq group said it had kidnapped Koda and demanded a withdrawal of Japanese troops from the country.

Koda's body was found Saturday, wrapped in an American flag and dumped on a Baghdad street.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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