More than 100 employees of Iraq's ministry of industry were kidnapped by gunmen, north of Baghdad as they left work on Tuesday in a brazen reminder of the country's dire security situation.
The mass-abduction came on the same day that the executed body of one of deposed leader Saddam Hussein's lawyers was found in the capital.
Workers at the Hateen and Nasr factories in the restive town of Taji, north of Baghdad, were ambushed and abducted by at least 50 gunmen who had arrived in five minibuses, a security source said on condition of anonymity.
"The employees took their seats on the buses that were waiting for them as usual," said the source.
"Groups of four to five gunmen (then) took control of the buses and drove them to an unknown destination," he said, adding that the occupants of one bus overpowered their hijackers and drove to Baghdad to report what had happened.
No further details were immediately available on the spectacular kidnapping which resembled similar incidents in the past in which ordinary civilians as well as Iraqi army and police members have been snatched en masse.
On June 5, 50 people working for long distance bus travel companies in central Baghdad were kidnapped by gunmen dressed in ministry of interior uniforms in broad daylight. Only 17 out of the group have been released since.
Hateen and Nasr were part of the military-industrial complex under the rule of ousted leader Saddam Hussein before their conversion into civilian manufacturing facilities belonging to the ministry of industry.