Gunmen kidnapped 42 university students near Iraq's northern city of Mosul today, a local Iraqi army commander told AFP.
"Unidentified gunmen kidnapped 42 students from the Mosul University. They were ambushed and kidnapped in an area called Jorum on a highway near Mosul," said Brigadier General Khalid Abdul Sattar, spokesman for the city's security plan.
Sattar said the gunmen ambushed two buses which were ferrying students to Mosul from their homes in Hurkat, 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of Iraq's main northern city.
"Unidentified gunmen kidnapped 42 students of Mosul University. They were ambushed and kidnapped in an area called Jorum on a highway near Mosul," said Sattar.
"One of the two buses managed to escape although the gunmen fired at it and wounded three students. The kidnappers later fled after taking control of the other bus carrying 42 students," he told AFP.
Iraqi and US troops are engaged in a major offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq's main northern city, which according to US military commanders is the jihadists' last urban stronghold in Iraq.
The American military, meanwhile, said US air strike in Baghdad's Shiite bastion of Sadr City killed at least nine people today.
The air strike killed "nine criminals in Sadr City at around 1030 IST," the military said without providing further details.