Iraqi rebels have reportedly captured two Americans and four Italians on the western outskirts of Baghdad. The tactic of hostage taking is a page
pulled from the operating handbook of the Hezbollah known to be supporting al-Sadr's cause.
Coalition officials have now confirmed that two American soldiers and "several" American civilian contractors are unaccounted for and presumed
captured after a raid west of Baghdad on a fuel convoy.
Italian officials have not yet confirmed reports of captured Italian citizens.
One American civilian has been confirmed as captured and being held hostage. A video tape was shown on Al Jazeera television showing the man, who
identified himself as Thomas Hamill. He is an employee of a Halliburton subsidiary.
Hamill appeared to be in good health on the video and indicated that his captors are giving him food and a place to sleep. A statement accompanying
the video stated that Hamill will be "treated worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah" if Coalition forces did not leave Fallujah by
10pm EST Saturday.
Coalition forces and insurgents in Fallujah reached a temporary cease-fire starting Sunday, but it does not appear that the military will withdraw
from the city.
"U.S. soldiers in a tank in the area near the village of al-Dhahab al-Abyad said they knew some Americans had been taken hostage, but had no
In a possibly related development the rebels have taken control of the highway between Abu Gharib and Fallujah further west. I am speculating they do
this in an effort to move the hostages to a more secure area quite possibly in the larger city of Fallujah where the U.S. has not regained full
Insurgants take highway
Hezbollah's Iraq Campaign
The reactions of foreign leaders on the recent kidnappings as reported at MSNBC show mainly resolve and support for the coalition.
* Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday he feared Australian aid workers in Iraq could be kidnapped, but said the country
would not be blackmailed into pulling its troops out. “It’s not so much the Australian embassy staff and officials who would be at risk of being
kidnapped, it’s much more aid workers,” Downer told reporters.
* Despite the brief abduction of seven missionaries, South Korea stood by plans to deploy 3,000 troops to Iraq, but has imposed a virtual ban on
civilian travel to the country, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said, adding that a military survey team would leave for Iraq on Friday. South Korea’s
defense minister told local media that he hoped to send the troops to Iraq by June 13.
* Poland's Prime Minister Leszek Miller said Thursday he expected more public pressure to pull Polish troops out, but he insisted that his
country would not abandon the U.S.-led coalition.
*Italy’s defense minister said Italian troops would stay, rejecting opposition calls to pull out after clashes that left 15 Iraqis dead and a
dozen Italians injured.
*Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thai troops had been ordered to stay inside their camp in the southern city of Kerbala, 60 miles
south of Baghdad, until fighting eased.
* Kazakhstan will keep its contingent of some 30 servicemen in Iraq as long as there are no serious casualties, a government source said on
[Edited on 11-4-2004 by Banshee]
[Edited on 11-4-2004 by SkepticOverlord]
[Edited on 4-13-2004 by Valhall]