A leading American newspaper says police and security forces in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk have abducted hundreds of Arabs and Turkmens - sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces in the region.

Citing U.S. government documents and victims' families, the Washington Post said the men have been abducted in raids led by Kurdish political parties and the detainees transferred secretly to prisons in Kurdish cities in northern Iraq.

The newspaper says it has obtained a confidential U.S. State Department cable addressed to the White House, the Defense Department and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that raises concern about the unlawful detentions and transfers.

Kirkuk is claimed by three Iraqi ethnic groups - Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens. There has been a sharp rise of violence and tension in the oil-rich city in recent months

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.