Authorities in Iraq are searching for three Americans who were kidnapped from a Baghdad apartment.
The three men, who are contractors working construction at Baghdad International Airport, went missing on Jan. 16, Iraqi authorities told The Washington Post. The men were described as former Iraqi nationals who had obtained American citizenship.
Reports about the possible kidnappers were conflicting: The Washington Post, citing an unnamed Iraqi police colonel, said Shiite militiamen were responsible for the abduction, while stories by Fox News and Agence France-Presse speculated that ISIS might have been behind the kidnappings, noting ISIS has claimed credit for abducting thousands of people in Iraq and Syria.
The men were invited to an apartment said to belong to their interpreter. The apartment was variously described as a "brothel" and as a place hosting "illicit parties" in various reports.
“They went to an inappropriate place,” Iraqi lawmaker Iskander Witwit said, according to The Washington Post. “Iraqi security forces are working very hard now to locate them.”
Dora, the southern Baghdad neighborhood where the men went missing, is controlled by Shiite militias, Iraqi authorities said. By contrast, ISIS is composed of Sunni Muslims, and considers Shiites apostates.
Iraqi police said the Shiite militias frequently carry out raids against liquor stores, bars and other locations where they believe people are engaged in "un-Islamic" behavior such as drinking alcohol, according to The Washington Post.
Saad al-Mutlabi, who leads Baghdad's local security council, said part of the confusion over the kidnapping can be attributed to investigators who are being tight-lipped in the hopes of finding the kidnapped Americans before they're ransomed or killed.
“The government is taking major steps to withhold information. They don’t want to jeopardize the investigation,” Mutlabi said.
The U.S. State Department would not confirm details of the kidnapping when contacted by reporters.
"The safety and security of American citizens overseas is our highest priority," John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, told Fox News. "We are working with the full cooperation of the Iraqi authorities to locate and recover the individuals. Due to privacy considerations, I have nothing further."