UN employee 'abducted in Iraq'

Iraqi government forces take position in the northern part of Diyala province on March 4, 2015 (AFP Photo/Younis al-Bayati) (AFP/File)

Baghdad (AFP) - A United Nations employee working as a liaison in Iraq's Diyala province has been "abducted" northeast of Baghdad, a spokeswoman for the UN mission in the country told AFP on Monday.

The Iraqi employee, whose name has not been released, was seized on Sunday in Diyala's provincial capital Baquba, Eliana Nabaa said.

"We are coordinating with the government" but further details on the incident are not yet available, she said.

"We hope we will have this colleague back among us very soon."

The abduction comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis displaced by violence over the past year are depending on UN assistance to survive.

Iraq was plagued by kidnappings in previous years, but they declined after the 2007-2008 peak of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence in Iraq.

But the threat has been on the rise again since last year, when the Islamic State jihadist group led an offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad.

IS has kidnapped thousands of people in Iraq, and Baghdad turned to Shiite militias with a history of kidnappings and other abuses to help bolster its forces, increasing the threat further.

The UN suffered one of the worst attacks in its history in Iraq in 2003 when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged truck at the Canal Hotel in the Iraqi capital.

The blast smashed a corner of the building, killing Brazilian UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.