Five Britons Seized at Government Office in Baghdad

Five Britons were kidnapped Tuesday from a government office in Baghdad, British officials confirmed, as the U.S. military reported that ten American soldiers were killed by roadside bombs and a helicopter crash.

British and Iraqi officials confirmed that the captives were British citizens, according to The Associated Press. Earlier, one Iraqi official had incorrectly said three Germans were kidnapped.

The hostages were taken by a group of gunmen wearing police commando uniforms who arrived at the ministry office in a 19-vehicle convoy of white sport utility vehicles, which are often used by police, according to information the two government officials and a police officer provided to the AP.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said the band of kidnappers drove off toward Sadr City, the Shiite Mahdi Army stronghold in northeastern Baghdad.

In London, a Foreign Office spokewoman said the five people kidnapped Tuesday were British. A senior official in the Iraqi Interior Ministry added that Mahdi Army militiamen were believed responsible. Both officials provided the information on condition their names not be used.

In McLean, Va., Steve Lunceford, a spokesman for the BearingPoint management consulting firm, said one of the kidnap

victims worked for the company. The other four were employees with the Montreal-based security firm GardaWorld, according to Joe Gavaghan, a spokesman for the Canadian company.

The latest deaths of U.S. soldiers have made May the deadliest month this year for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Eight of the soldiers were from Task Force Lightning - six killed when explosions hit near their vehicles and two in a

helicopter crash. The military did not say if the helicopter was shot down or had mechanical problems.

Also in Baghdad, a parked minibus packed with explosives blew up in Tayaran Square. The blast killed 23 people and wounded 68 others, a police official in the district said on condition he not be named.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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