Aljazeera learned on Sunday the Egyptians worked as engineers for the mobile telephone company Iraqna, a subsidiary of Egypt's Orascom Telecom. They were seized by fighters as they were leaving their homes in west Baghdad. 

Fighters have captured about a dozen Egyptians in Iraq over the past year, including six from Iraqna, and are believed to have killed two of them. 

All the others, including diplomat Muhammad Mahmud Qutb, were freed, usually after negotiations through intermediaries. 

Last month, an unidentified armed group captured an Egyptian oil company manager in Iraq. Scores of foreigners have been captured in Iraq over the past year.

Marine killed

Meanwhile, a US marine was killed in action on Saturday in an area south of Baghdad, the US military announced on Sunday in a statement. 

A total of 1443 US soldiers have
been killed since the invasion

"A marine assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action yesterday while conducting security and stability operations in the north Babil province," the statement said. 

The death raises to 1443 the number of US military personnel whose lives have been lost in Iraq since the US-led invasion in the spring of 2003.

Civilians targeted

Separately, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported two civilian killings in Baghdad while a bomb blast in the centre of the main southern city of Basra on Sunday wounded one person. 

An employee of the Baghdad provincial government was shot dead in the street by fighters on Saturday morning, an Interior Ministry official said. 

About an hour later, another man was killed in similar fashion in the same district of eastern Baghdad, the official added. 

The blast in Basra came one day after a booby-trapped motorbike killed four soldiers there.

"The injured man was standing in front of his store when the bomb went off a few moments after a police car had passed by," a police official said. 

The Interior Ministry also said that two boats, suspected of smuggling petrol out of the country, had been seized on Saturday in Shat al-Arab waterway, which separates Iraq from Iran.  

The crew of the two vessels was trying to take petrol, which is subsidised in Iraq, out of the country to be resold, the ministry said.