A provincial governor said Tuesday that 45 people from his predominantly Shiite region have been kidnapped in a Sunni area of western Iraq while en route by bus out of the country.

Asaad Abu Kilal, governor of Najaf, said the victims were traveling in six buses when they were waylaid near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi — the main land route to both Syria and Jordan.

CountryWatch: Iraq

"Now we have 45 people from Najaf whose whereabouts are unknown," he said. "We have informed the officials [in Baghdad] about the crimes on that highway."

He said that if the Interior Ministry cannot find the victims "we will send special troops from Najaf" to help find them.