A search has been launched for two German engineers kidnapped in Iraq.
They were abducted by men in army uniforms on a on road leading to an industrial complex where they were working on a short-term project.
Iraqi security forces have set up roadblocks and American helicopters are helping too.
The incident happened in Baiji, which is home to the country’s biggest oil refinery and a hotbed of insurgent activity and crime.
It confirms an upward trend in the kidnapping of foreigners over the last few months. Several are still being held, including an American woman journalist, four western peace activists and two Kenyan engineers.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We will do everything that is in our power to bring back the two engineers safely to Germany.”
A German archaeologist was taken hostage in Iraq in November and freed the following month. Berlin is alleged to have paid a ransom for her release.