ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two women from the Philippines who were kidnapped have been released, the Diyala Province police chief said on Sunday.
The two Filipina women were kidnapped on the road connecting Baghdad to the city of Kirkuk on Saturday, security sources said.
They were traveling in the same car with three other nationals of the Philippines on their way to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, a local security source told Kurdistan 24. The two women exited the vehicle after it broke down. Unknown men then drove by in a yellow car, stopped, and abducted them.
It is the first kidnapping of foreigners in the country since Iraq’s announcement of victory against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in December.
“All indications are that the incident is a kidnapping,” a Kurdish security source told Kurdistan 24. “The forces have launched a quick search to learn of their situation.”
The identities, affiliation, and motivation of the kidnappers was not immediately clear, he said.
According to Al Jazeera, the driver of the car is an Iraqi national who was arrested and placed under investigation after filing a report at a police station in Diyala.
The abduction comes during a military operation launched by Iraqi security forces in southern Kirkuk and neighboring provinces to clear IS militants from the area.
IS has launched several attacks in the area over the past few months as well as kidnapping civilians on the roads between Kirkuk and Baghdad.
In June, the extremist group kidnapped at least eight members of Iraq’s security forces before executing them and dumping their bodies on the road near Kirkuk.