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District is scoured for missing soldier

Times Staff Writer

U.S. and Iraqi troops aided by warplanes and unmanned drones fanned out in a Baghdad neighborhood on Tuesday in search of an American soldier believed to have been abducted the previous evening.

The troops closed roads and bridges, set up checkpoints, searched cars and went house to house in the Karada neighborhood, U.S. military officials said.

“It’s pretty intense,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a military spokesman. “Forces throughout Baghdad are working on it.”

The soldier, an Iraqi American who worked as a linguist on a reconstruction team, was last seen in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Monday afternoon. Officials believe he left the compound to visit relatives in the city during Eid al-Fitr, the most festive holiday on the Muslim calendar.

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During the visit, three cars reportedly pulled up to the house, according to a military statement. It said kidnappers with dark rags over their faces handcuffed the unnamed soldier and forced him into one of the cars. The abductors reportedly later called a relative of the soldier at the house.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones, and we are working for his safe return,” said Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of U.S. military forces in Baghdad.

Abductions of American troops are rare in Baghdad. In June, however, search teams found the badly mutilated bodies of two soldiers in a field south of the capital. Attackers had seized the pair during an assault on their checkpoint, then tortured and killed them. A third soldier was killed during the initial attack.

One U.S. soldier, Staff Sgt. Keith M. Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was captured in April 2004 and has not been found.

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The U.S. military also announced on Tuesday four more troop deaths. One soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Tuesday, while two Marines and a sailor were killed in the western province of Al Anbar the day before. Their deaths raised to at least 90 the number of U.S. troops killed this month.

In Baghdad on Tuesday, at least 22 Iraqis were found dead and a bomb killed one person.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, bombing attacks killed one person and injured six.

louise.roug@latimes.com

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