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<bleeding_heart>

Injured American hostage says he is being well tre

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AN AMERICAN hostage held by rebels who threatened to kill and mutilate him, yesterday claimed he was being well treated by his captors.

Thomas Hamill looked remarkably calm as he sat in front of an Iraqi flag in a videotape given to the Al-Jazeera television network after being captured in the ambush of a convoy west of Baghdad.

A spokesman off camera demanded that US troops end their siege of the city of Fallujah, where four American civilians were killed and mutilated last week.

"Our only demand is to remove the siege from the city of mosques," he said.

"If you don't respond within 12 hours . . . he will be treated worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah."

On the tape, Hamill gives his name and says he is 43 and from Mississippi.

It shows him standing in front of an Iraqi flag emblazoned with the words "Allahu Akbar" - God is great.

"I am in good shape. I work for a private company that supports the military action," a voice-over said in probable reference to private US security firms in Iraq.

"I want my family to know that these people are taking care of me, and provide me with food, water and a place to sleep."

Mr Hamill was captured by gunmen who fired a rocket at a fuel convoy on the road between Baghdad and the besieged city of Fallujah.

He also appeared calm when he identified himself to a television reporter seconds before being whisked away in a car yesterday by the kidnappers.

He was sitting in the back seat, next to a masked gunman waving an automatic rifle. He had a bandage on his arm and blood and dirt on his jeans.

Speaking through the car's open window, he gave his name and said he was part of a convoy that was attacked.

Asked by a reporter for Australia's ABC television what had happened, he said, "They attacked our convoy. That's all I'm going to say."

Mr Hamill, who has light hair and a moustache, wore what appeared to be a light flak jacket of the sort worn by private security guards, who are often contracted to protect convoys.

Rebels attacked a fuel convoy in Abu Ghreib on the main highway outside Baghdad, setting a tanker on fire and killing an American soldier and an Iraqi driver.

Source

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