An Iraqi farmer said on Monday that he saw seven heavily armed gunmen capture two American soldiers during an attack on a road checkpoint south of Baghdad, while US troops search for their comrades for a second day.
The White House promised to do everything it could to find the soldiers and said it had a message for anybody who may have taken the two men: "Give them back."
Gunmen, meanwhile, kidnapped 10 bakery workers in northern Baghdad, and four people were killed in a mortar attack on a house elsewhere in the capital.
Iraqi police also found 17 bodies in and around Baghdad on Monday, including those of four women and a teenager who were handcuffed and shot in the head - apparently the latest victims of death squads that plague the capital and other areas.
Despite the embarrassing setbacks to his plan to restore security in the capital, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pressed forward with a plan to implement a new national reconciliation plan.
US troops, backed by helicopters and warplanes, fanned out across the 'Triangle of Death' south of Baghdad searching for the missing servicemen, but the military offered no new information after saying on Sunday that at least four raids had been carried out.
White House spokesman Tony Snow also said he could not confirm reports that the two men were abducted, but he told 'Fox News Sunday' that anybody who was holding them should "give them back."
Elsewhere, US and Iraqi troops met little resistance as they established new outposts in southern Ramadi in a new operation aimed at choking off supplies to insurgents in Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab city.