The US government says it is aware of reports that three American citizens have gone missing in Iraq and is working with Iraqi authorities to locate them. Pan-Arab news channel Al Arabiya first reported that the three US citizens were allegedly kidnapped in Baghdad.

"We are aware of reports that American citizens are missing in Iraq," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on 17 January, according to AFP. "The safety and security of American citizens overseas is our highest priority.‎" Kirby did not identify the missing Americans but added: "We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals."

According to the AFP, an anonymous Iraqi police colonel said that three Americans and an Iraqi translator were kidnapped in southern Baghdad. The kidnappers are believed to have been militiamen wearing military uniforms. "We don't know what their work is," the colonel said the three Americans.

However, a senior security official in Baghdad told CNN that the three Americans were contractors. "A company filed a report Sunday about three of its staff going missing two days ago. They are American contractors. We are looking into this report," the official said.

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