An American aid worker was shot dead on Monday while driving a car in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said, in a rare attack on a foreigner in the Iraqi capital.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official said the American was killed in the evening in the central Karrada area of Baghdad, where he and his family rented a house. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the public, said the aid worker’s car had been shot by gunmen traveling in two vehicles.
Security officials said that they did not know the motive behind the attack.
The intelligence official said the American had been employed by Millennium Relief and Development Services, a U.S.-based charity that says it was established in 1998 to provide long-term development assistance to the poor in more than 40 countries.
A spokesman said the U.S. Embassy could not yet confirm the death but was investigating. The New York Times is withholding the victim’s name pending confirmation that his extended family has been notified.
The killings and kidnappings of foreigners for ransom were more common during Iraq’s civil war, when Al Qaeda and Shiite militias fought in the streets after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But in recent years, Baghdad has become relatively safe, with many foreign residents living in homes and apartments in the heart of the capital. When killings occur, the attacks are usually an outgrowth of militia disputes or criminal activity.
The aid worker was affiliated with an American English-language center in Baghdad, and posted recent videos on the center’s Facebook page inviting Iraqi students to sign up.
His social media feeds included Bible quotations and photos from the family’s travels in Baghdad and Jordan. One showed him and his wife taking a selfie on Al Mutanabi Street, the cultural heart of Baghdad, and another posing at sunset on a bridge over the Tigris River with the caption: “What a wonderful place!”
On his Facebook page, a family photo showed him and his young children in the United States setting off to deliver food aid.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for,” one of his Twitter messages read, quoting the writer John A. Shedd.
Iraq has been in intense political turmoil over a new government, which was sworn in last month after more than a year of political deadlock following 2021 elections. The new government is dominated by political blocs tied to Iran-backed militias. Clashes this year between those militias and fighters loyal to a Shiite cleric who rejects Iranian and other foreign interference have raised fears that inter-Shiite fighting could undermine the country’s relative security stability.
Falih Hassan and Sangar Khaleel contributed reporting.