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Iraqis kidnap Macon man

By Staff
from staff and wire reports
April 11, 2004
A Mississippi man was being held hostage Saturday in Iraq by a group of insurgents that has threatened to kill the civilian worker if U.S. troops don't withdraw from Fallujah by today.
Thomas Hamill, 43, of Macon, was kidnapped Friday the latest in a string of kidnappings in Iraq.
Hamill's wife, Kellie, declined an interview and referred all questions to her husband's employer, Houston-based engineering and construction company Kellogg, Brown &Root a division of Halliburton.
Company spokeswoman Wendy Hall did not return phone calls Saturday night. Hall did, however, issue a prepared statement by e-mail that said the company's main concern is for the security of all personnel.
The group of Iraqi insurgents who kidnapped Hamill threatened in a videotape released Saturday to kill him unless U.S. forces withdraw from the city of Fallujah by this morning.
The tape was broadcast on the Arab TV news station Al-Jazeera.
A voice-over read by an Al-Jazeera announcer quoted Hamill as saying he was being treated well and that he works for a "private company that supports the military action."
Hamill stood in front of the red-white-and-black Iraqi flag, its emblazoned slogan "God is great" prominent above his head. His eyes darted back and forth, but he appeared calm.
His captors warned he would meet a worse fate than four American civilians killed in Fallujah on March 31. Their burned bodies were mutilated and dragged through the streets by a mob that hung two of them from a Euphrates River bridge.
Hamill was snatched Friday by gunmen who attacked a fuel convoy he was guarding on the main highway on Baghdad's western edge, the latest in a string of kidnappings in Iraq.
Other abductions
Footage released earlier Saturday showed Hamill being whisked away in a car, a gunman in the back seat with him waving an automatic weapon.
Hamill's abduction comes as other insurgents vowed to free three Japanese hostages in 24 hours. The Iraqis had threatened to burn the civilians alive unless Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq, a demand Japan refused.
Videotape delivered to Al-Jazeera, as well as Associated Press Television News, on Thursday showed the three Japanese two aid workers and a journalist blindfolded and surrounded by armed, masked men.
Insurgents elsewhere have seized a Canadian and an Arab from Jerusalem. A British citizen and two German security officials in Baghdad are also missing, though it is unknown if they have been kidnapped.
In Macon, Hamill's grandmother, Vera, said the family learned her grandson was missing Friday. She said they learned he was kidnapped by Iraqis when they saw the television news Saturday morning.
Assistant Managing Editor Terry R. Cassreino and the Associated Press contributed to this report.