Five foreigners kidnapped in Iraq

Five security contractors - four Americans and an Austrian - were being held hostage today after their convoy was hijacked in southern Iraq, officials said.







Another nine civilians were travelling with the convoy when it was attacked yesterday near the city of Basra, including men from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, but they have since been released, according to an official with the company those kidnapped worked for, Crescent Security Group.

"We have four American security contractors and one Austrian unaccounted for," he said in a telephone interview from Kuwait, where the company is based. "All the civilian truck drivers have been accounted for, a mix of men from countries such as India, Pakistan, the Philippines."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity at his request, refused to say how many vehicles were in the convoy, who hijacked it and how the freed captives were released, saying he didn't want to jeopardize the work that US and British forces were doing in handling the crisis.

"I'm not sure what the British and US military have put in motion, and I don't want to release too much information in case it compromises whatever they may be doing. But we're working very closely with them to get this revolved," the official said.

The Crescent Security Group company works mostly in Iraq, and its operations are based in Kuwait. Many of its managers and employees are American.

In Basra, Capt. Tane Dunlop, a spokesman for British forces, said the hijacking occurred yesterday at 1pm in Safwan, an Iraqi city near the Kuwait border, and that four Americans and an Austrian were still being held.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said yesterday that preliminary reports suggested the attacked convoy included about 19 vehicles.

An official familiar with the incident said yesterday that initial reports suggested that the attack occurred at a checkpoint in a location where normally there is no blockade.

In the United States, NBC television reported that the kidnappers were wearing uniforms.

A US State Department official informed the family of Paul Reuben, 39, a former Minneapolis police officer who was working as a security contractor in Iraq, that he was among those captured, his brother, Patrick Reuben, told the Star Tribune newspaper and KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defence said today that no British civilians or military forces were attacked or taken hostage during the hijacking.

In Baghdad, a spokeswoman for the US military would only confirm today that "an incident occurred at a checkpoint." She added that officials would probably provide more information later.

Italy formally handed over security responsibility of the southern Dhi Qar Province to Iraqi forces in late September, and British troops handed over control of the adjacent southern Muthana province in July.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas