The men were seized at about 10pm local time (1800 GMT) on Thursday in the upmarket Harthiya neighbourhood, said ministry official Colonel Adnan Abd al-Rahman. The two engineers were driven away in a black BMW, he said.

He had no further details.

They both worked for Iraqna, a mobile telecommunications company covering Baghdad and central Iraq in which Egypt-based firm Orascom has a sizeable stake.

The men's employers at Iraqna Mobile Net had no immediate information on the incident.

But other employees say that six other co-workers had been taken captive earlier in the week.

"My colleague called me on Wednesday to say that six of our colleagues were kidnapped that day in the afternoon near Falluja," an expatriate employee with Orascom told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"When I went back to the office on Thursday, they confirmed that it was true," he said.

Over the last six months more than 100 foreigners have been seized in Iraq. Most have been freed but around 30 have been killed by their captors.