Gunmen kidnapped the head of the Iraq's chamber of commerce near his office in downtown Baghdad (search), his neighbors and employees said Thursday.

Abboud al-Tufaili (search) was kidnapped in central the Salhiyah neighborhood Wednesday, one of his employees said on condition of anonymity. The employee spoke from Najaf, where al-Tufaili lives.

It was not clear if the kidnapping is politically motivated or was for ransom.

Al-Tufaili, a well-known businessman, owns several hotels in Najaf.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's (search) government last year, hundreds of Iraqis have been kidnapped and later released after paying ransom.