A senior foreign ministry official said 41-year-old Muhammad Rifat, who disappeared on 8 April somewhere between Baghdad and the nearby town of Abu Ghuraib, was alive and being held by an unknown group.

"The government of Canada is aware that he is being detained. We call on those who have detained him to release him immediately," said Dan McTeague, responsible for helping Canadians who run into trouble abroad.

Confirmation

McTeague said the kidnapping had been confirmed by officials in Iraq. Rifat had been carrying out contract repair work at a prison in Abu Ghuraib.

Another Canadian, Fadi Fadil, taken hostage in Iraq, was freed by his captors last week.

"We call on those who have detained him to release him immediately"

Dan McTeague,
Canadian official

"Those Canadians who are there in Iraq ought to consider very strongly getting out as quickly as possible. This is the second example of a Canadian who has been detained," McTeague said.

Fadil was released after Foreign Minister Bill Graham made a public appeal that the kidnapped man was a Canadian and not an Israeli spy.

About 50 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq in recent weeks. One hostage – an Italian - was killed by his captors.

Officials said everything would be done to secure Rifat's release.

"The government has an absolute interest in ensuring that he is freed as quickly as possible … No stone will be left unturned," said McTeague.