ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – 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 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.
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 a number of attacks in the area over the past few months as well as kidnapping civilians on the roads between Kirkuk and Baghdad.
On Friday, gunmen believed to be IS fighters killed seven members of one family on their way back from a wedding ceremony in the province of Diyala.
In June, at least eight members of the security forces were kidnapped and later killed by members of the jihadist group on the same highway where the two women were abducted.
Editing by John J. Catherine