An initial investigation into the killing of an American citizen in a bustling commercial area of Baghdad suggests that the gunmen sought to kidnap him, two Interior Ministry officials said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Baghdad confirmed the death of the man, identifying him as Stephen Edward Troell. The statement did not elaborate further on his death.
The American was driving through the capital’s Karrada district late on Monday when at least two gunmen shot him. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Immediately after the incident, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, ordered an investigation into the killing.
“The investigation is still going on, we are talking to eyewitnesses and checking the videos of security cameras in the area,” one officer said.
“The initial impression is that it was a failed attempt to kidnap him, but that’s not final yet.”
Another officer confirmed the initial results of the investigation. Both requested anonymity.
After the shooting, police leaked the slain American's identification cards. One of the IDs issued by an aid organisation said he was an English teacher.
“We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death,” the US embassy said in the brief statement, saying it has no further comments on the incident, citing respect for his mourning family.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss and stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
The Texas-based aid group Millennium Relief and Development Services said that one of its American workers had been killed in Baghdad late on Monday. It did not give his name.
“We are greatly saddened by the tragedy that took the life of our colleague, near his home in Baghdad, Iraq. He was shot and killed by armed attackers as he returned to his home on Monday evening,” said the group.
“Our colleague had been working for a local English learning institute, Global English Institute, for the past few years, managing the promotions and advertising while his wife was manager of the school.”
The institute said it has operated under the umbrella of the aid group for more than 20 years.
“He loved the people of Iraq and it motivated him to strive for excellence in his work at Global,” the institute said.
“He will be remembered as a source of great encouragement and will be missed by all who knew him and were touched by his life.”
The US State Department was aware of reports of an American killed in Iraq and was looking into them, department spokesman Ned Price said.
“We would of course notify the next of kin before making any public comments,” Mr Price said at a regular press briefing.
After the 2003 US-led invasion, Baghdad and many Iraqi cities were off limits for foreigners due to the deteriorating security situation and widespread kidnapping.
But in recent years with the improvement of the security situation, foreigners, whether visiting Iraq for work or as tourists, are often seen in Baghdad and other cities roaming the streets and visiting ancient sites without security guards.