Two prominent Sunni Arab politicians were shot dead in Baghdad on Monday, and diplomatic officials confirmed that four Western aid workers had been abducted by gunmen one day earlier. An American was believed to be among those kidnapped.
Ayad Alizi and Ali Hussein, members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, one of Iraq's leading Sunni organizations, were attacked and killed, along with a bodyguard, while traveling by car in a predominantly Sunni region west of Baghdad, said Naseer Ani, the party's political head. Alizi was to be a candidate in legislative elections slated for Dec. 15.
The Iraqi Islamic Party is one of several Sunni Arab groups that boycotted the country's last elections in January but will compete for seats on a unified Sunni ticket this time. Fakhri Qaisi, a spokesman for one of the other parties on the Sunni slate, was seriously wounded in a similar attack in Baghdad this month.
Meanwhile, the name and organizational affiliation of the U.S. citizen believed kidnapped Sunday was not released by embassy officials, who would say only that an American was missing. British peace activist Norman Kember was among those taken captive, according to British Embassy spokeswoman Lisa Glover. Two Canadians were also seized, government officials said.
"The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is in contact with the family of this American citizen and providing all possible assistance," embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton said. "The U.S. is taking the reports seriously and investigating the reports with all possible urgency.
"We are working with the Iraqi authorities and representatives of the other embassies, but we cannot provide any further information," Colton said. "Out of consideration of the family, we will not release additional information about this individual at this time."
The German Foreign Ministry announced Monday that a German woman has been missing in Iraq since Friday, according to the Associated Press. The government didn't immediately release other details, but Germany's ARD television reported that the woman had been kidnapped.
While kidnappings of foreigners were once common in Iraq, they have grown less frequent in recent months. The last American known to have been abducted in the country was Jeffrey J. Ake, a contractor, on April 11. Ake's condition and whereabouts are unknown. An Irish journalist, Rory Carroll, was abducted last month from the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, held for one night and released unharmed.
Elsewhere in Iraq, news services and local television reported, two British religious pilgrims bound for shrines in the south were killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle. The British Embassy in Baghdad was investigating the report but was unable to confirm it Monday evening, Glover said.
In Baqubah, north of Baghdad, a car bomb detonated at about 11:30 a.m. near a U.S. military patrol, wounding four soldiers and damaging a Humvee. All of the soldiers returned to duty, said Army Capt. Bill Roberts, a military spokesman.
And U.S. forces north of the southern city of Najaf killed a leader of a prominent Shiite Muslim militia during a raid on his home late Sunday night, according to Sahib Amiri, general secretary of the Martyr of God Institute, which works closely with Moqtada Sadr, a popular and outspoken cleric critical of the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Hassan Hadi Amiri, who was killed in the raid, was a leader of the Mahdi Army, a militia controlled by Sadr. U.S. military spokesmen in Baghdad reached by telephone and e-mail said they had no information about such an incident.
Special correspondent Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.