Three Iraqi Christians are still missing after being brutally kidnapped near Kirkurk Wednesday.
The three people were reportedly abducted in violent circumstances and led to an unknown destination by a group of gunmen. The Iraqi police and army were deployed to support the search, a local news agency reported.
“Gunmen in a modern vehicle blocked the Christians’ way, set their white Land rover afire, killed their hunting dogs and led them to an unknown destination,” a witness told Alsumaria News.
The three Christians were on a regular hunting trip and they were on their way back home when the incident happened. They were reported to have gone on hunting trips in the region on a regular basis.
Local news station received a tip about the kidnapping from the Iraqi police on Thursday.
The incident happened in the northern Kirkuk region. The area and the city of Kirkuk has seen multiple instances of violence directed against the Christians community in recent years, including church bombings and murders.
Only in August, two church bombings took place in the city.
On Aug. 2, a church in Kirkuk was bombed resulting in some 23 Christians being wounded. Following the attack, two other car bombs were found outside Kirkuk's Christian Anglican Church and the Mar Gourgis church.
Later in the month, an insurgent blast left another church building in the region, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram, severely damaged. It was part of a wave of violence that swept across Iraq that day, hitting 17 cities and claiming about 70 lives, reported AP.
Back in May a Christian was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered, reportedly by al-Qaida.
A local news agency, Aswat al-Iraq, reported Friday that a man kidnapped in the region was released after his family paid a $50,000 ransom to his kidnappers. The Christian Post did not manage to confirm that the man is one of the three Christians as of yet.
The city of Kirkuk is the capital of the governorate by the same name. It is located 146 miles north of Baghdad.