An Iraqi military spokesman says gunmen have kidnapped a senior Justice Ministry official in Baghdad.

Brig. Gen. Saad Maan says the gunmen intercepted the convoy of acting Deputy Minister Abdul-Karim al-Saadi in the mainly Shiite eastern part of the city on Tuesday, kidnapping him and two guards.

Maan says the guards were later freed, without providing further details. The motive for the kidnapping was not immediately clear.

Kidnapping for ransom has been common in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Masked men in military uniforms kidnapped 18 Turkish citizens in eastern Baghdad last week, bundling them into several SUVs and speeding away in an operation that laid bare serious security gaps in the heavily defended city.