Assailants have shot dead an American aid worker in Baghdad in a rare killing of a foreigner in the Iraqi capital in recent years, police officials said.
The man was shot in his car on Monday as he entered the street where he lives in Karrada, a lively commercial district in the heart of the Iraqi capital.
“Our initial investigation and eyewitnesses showed that armed men were trying to kidnap the American citizen,” an Iraqi police major said.
Two security officials confirmed a United States citizen who worked for an international aid organisation had been killed without giving his name.
Police sources also said that the man’s wife and child were in the car with him but were not hurt.
The attack occurred after the man was cut off while driving in the streets by one car, while assailants in another car shot him dead.
Iraq’s state news agency (INA) said that the country’s armed forces’ commander-in-chief gave an order to form an investigative committee into the killing of the US citizen.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the department is aware of the reports of the killing of a US aid worker in Baghdad and is looking into them. But, he said the department was not yet in a position to confirm the accounts of the death or that the person was a US citizen.
According to documents seen by The Associated Press news agency, the man had been renting an apartment in Karrada’s Wahda area since May last year.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing.
The US Embassy in Baghdad was unable to give an immediate comment.
Such attacks against individuals in the Iraqi capital have been rare since the defeat of the ISIL (ISIS) group in the country in 2017 but rockets are sometimes fired towards the US Embassy.
In March 2021, a US civilian contractor died of a heart attack while sheltering from a rocket attack on an Iraqi base hosting troops from the US-led coalition fighting ISIL.
And in March 2020, two months after the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Baghdad, two American soldiers and one British soldier were killed in a similar attack – the deadliest in years.
Monday’s attack came after Iraq’s new government cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani was given a vote of confidence by parliament in late October. Al-Sudani was named by the Iran-backed Coordination Framework, composed largely of Shia parties.
Iraq held early elections more than a year ago in response to mass anti-government protests that began in October 2019 in Baghdad and across southern Iraq. Protesters called for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 US-led invasion.
US-led coalition forces recently ended their combat mission in Iraq but continue to play an advisory role to Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIL.