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Hostage escapes, 11 Americans die in Iraq

May 03, 2004 14:47 IST

Thomas Hamill, A US civilian contractor abducted in Iraq three weeks ago escaped on Sunday by breaking out of a locked room and flagging down a passing US patrol, report agencies.

Hamill, a truck driver for a Halliburton subsidiary, KBR,  and six other employees were abducted after an attack on their convoy west of Baghdad on April 9. A day later, his abductors  released a video showing him standing in front of an Iraqi flag, and threatened to kill him unless the US lifted the siege of Fallujah. The bodies of four of the kidnap victims have been recovered since then. 

The news of Hamill's escape came as 11 American soldiers and three Iraqis died in escalating fighting across Iraq, and Washington squirmed over reports of widespread prisoner abuse by US forces.

'He got out of the building when he found out and he had heard a coalition convoy coming by, convoy come by, ran out, ran quite a distance, linked up with those American soldiers, identified

himself. We got a helicopter in there quickly to get him out of there. And now we're in the process of repatriating him,' said Coalition leader Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.  Hamill, 43, of Macon, Mississippi, was "in good health," he said. 

"Other than an old gunshot wound to the arm, Mr. Hamill seemed fine, so the US troops hastily cordoned off the house where he'd been held prisoner, capturing two Iraqis and one AK-47 automatic rifle," said the Christian Science Monitor. Hamill was then evacuated to Baghdad - an emotional bit of good news after a month of record US casualties and increasing insurgent attacks.

Hamill's wife, Kellie, was quoted as saying that her husband called her about 5:50 am from Baghdad. It was "the best wakeup call I've ever had," she said.

"I'm just so happy my daddy's going to be home," the Monitor quotes his his 11-year-old daughter, Tori, as saying.

Complete coverage: The war in Iraq

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