The head of Iraq's karate union has been kidnapped south of Baghdad (search), sports officials said Saturday.

Ali Shakir (search) was abducted Thursday afternoon in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, while on his way home, said Ahmed Hashim, an Iraq Olympic committee official.

Gunmen wearing police uniforms and manning a fake checkpoint stopped Shakir's car, ordered his mother out, then drove away with him, said Capt. Muthana Khalid, a spokesman for the Babil (search) police.

It was not clear why Shakir was kidnapped, but insurgents have frequently targeted members of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. The Iraqi Union of Karate is a government agency.