BAGHDAD (AP) — Assailants fatally shot an American aid worker Monday in a rare killing of a foreigner in the Iraqi capital in recent years, two police officials said.
The man was shot in his car as he entered the street where he lives in Baghdad’s central Karrada district on the east bank of the Tigris River but the reason for the killing was not immediately clear, they said. They said the man’s wife and child were in the car with him but were not hurt.
The officials said as the man drove through his street, a car cut him off and assailants in another car shot him dead. It was not immediately clear if the assailants were trying to kidnap the man, they said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the department is aware of the reports of the killing of a U.S. 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 U.S. citizen.
According to documents seen by The Associated Press, the man had been renting an apartment in Karrada’s Wahda area since May last year.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing.
U.S. Embassy officials when contacted by The Associated Press could not immediately provide any information about the case.
Two security officials confirmed a U.S. citizen who worked for an international aid organization had been killed without giving his name. They said details were scarce but an investigation was underway. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
A medical worker at Sheikh Zayed Hospital, where the victim was taken, said he was dead on arrival.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said he would form a committee comprising the interior ministry and various security agencies to “investigate the circumstances of the killing of an American citizen in the capital.”
The streets of the middle class, mixed Christian and Muslim neighborhood where the victim reportedly lived were empty of residents but heavily patrolled by police Monday night.
Such attacks against individuals in the Iraqi capital have been rare since the defeat of the Islamic State group in the country in 2017 but rockets are sometimes fired toward the U.S. Embassy.
In the early years that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, such attacks were common. In 2004, two Americans were kidnapped in Baghdad and extremists later released videos showing their beheading.
The attack came after Iraq’s new 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 Shiite 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 U.S.-led invasion.
U.S.-led coalition forces recently ended their combat mission in Iraq but continue to play an advisory role to Iraqi forces in the fight against IS.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.