Police said gunmen killed at least 10 security personnel Wednesday and seized an engineer from Malawi in an ambush in a deadly western district of Baghdad. Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, held out hope that a kidnapped American reporter would be released.
A security convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles was attacked in Baghdad's Jami'a district, sparking a fierce gun battle between heavily armed insurgents and security personnel wearing civilian clothes, said Capt. Qassim Hussein.
Hussein said at least 10 security personnel were killed, while another security worker and a civilian were wounded. A police official said an engineer from Malawi, who was working for the mobile telephone company Iraqna, was abducted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to media.
Two Iraqi journalists were wounded earlier Wednesday in the same area by gunmen in a passing car while they drove to work at the al-Iraq newspaper, Hussein added. The reporters were hospitalized.
The bodies of three men, including a relative of Iraq's defense minister, were also found Wednesday with gunshot wounds to the head in a Baghdad apartment, a police official said.
Sadad al-Batah, a Sunni Arab tribal leader related to Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi, was killed along with his nephew and a third person, who was identified as an Iraqi army officer, said the official, who declined to be identified further because of security reasons.
Police are working to secure the release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll, who was seen in a tape aired on an Arab TV station late Tuesday for the first time since her Jan. 7 abduction in Baghdad.
Al-Jazeera said the tape, a silent 20-second video showing Carroll appearing pale and tired, also included a threat to kill the 28-year-old freelance writer in 72 hours if U.S. authorities didn't release all Iraqi women in military custody.
US military spokeswoman Sgt. Stacy Simon said eight Iraqi women are currently detained, but provided no further details.
Carroll, working for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, was abducted in one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods as she was being driven to meet a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to appear for the interview. Carroll's translator was killed.
The US Embassy said a joint American-Iraqi investigation is underway to try find Carroll.
"Efforts are continuing to find the American journalist," said Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister in charge of domestic intelligence. "We cannot say more because of the sensitivity of the matter, but God willing the end will be positive."
A still photograph of Carroll from the videotape appeared on Al-Jazeera's Web site carrying a logo reading "The Revenge Brigade," a group that was not known from previous claims of responsibility of violence in Iraq.
On the tape, Carroll wears a white-colored pullover, while her long, straight, brown hair is parted in the middle and pulled back from her face as she speaks into the camera.
Al-Jazeera would not tell The Associated Press how it received the tape, but the station issued its own statement calling for Carroll's release.
The Christian Science Monitor said Carroll arrived in Iraq in 2003 and began filing stories for the newspaper early last year.
The paper released a statement from her family pleading with her captors to set her free.
"Jill is a friend and sister to many Iraqis and has been dedicated to bringing the truth of the Iraq war to the world," it said. "We appeal for the speedy and safe return of our beloved daughter and sister."