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Kidnapped U.S. contractor found safe

At least nine U.S. troops killed in three attacks


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Thomas Hamill is shown last month in a car with one of his captors.
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U.S. contractor Thomas Hamill, missing since last month in Iraq, escapes his captors.

A U.S. army base under attack from mortar rounds.

CNN's Ben Wedeman looks at how the coalition is speeding the training of Iraqi troops.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An American contractor missing since a convoy attack last month was recovered and is in good health after apparently escaping from his captors, U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said Sunday.

Thomas Hamill, 43, was working as a truck driver for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of oil field services contractor Halliburton Co., when his fuel convoy was attacked April 9 near Baghdad International Airport and he was taken hostage. (Full story)

The news came the same day that nine U.S. troops were killed in Iraq in three separate incidents, according to the U.S. military.

Hamill was recovered near Balad, south of Tikrit, about 100 miles north of where he was captured, coalition officials said.

Hamill's escape brought cheering and expressions of relief in Hamill's hometown of Macon, Mississippi.

His wife, Kellie, said she talked to her husband about 6 a.m. Sunday, just hours after he was rescued.

"My main concern was just getting him home safe," she told reporters outside the couple's home, which was decorated with yellow ribbons and balloons, with a giant U.S. flag draped across the roof.

Hamill told her he heard a military convoy pass on the road outside where he was being held, pried open a door and ran about a half-mile down the road to catch up with it. (Full story)

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said President Bush was briefed and "is pleased to hear that Mr. Hamill escaped and is safely in the hands of the U.S. military."

Hamill was one of seven KBR employees reported missing after the convoy was attacked. Four were later found dead: Jeffery Parker, Jack Montague, Stephen Hulett and Tony Johnson. Two others -- Tim Bell and William Bradley -- are still missing, Kimmitt said.

Pfc. Keith Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was taken hostage and shown in video with his captors. His fate is unknown. A second soldier, Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was listed as missing but later was confirmed dead.

Also being held hostage are two Canadian businessmen and three Italian security personnel, Kimmitt said. A French news reporter, a German Embassy security official and a Jordanian businessman are also missing.

Sunday's deaths

Six U.S. troops died in a mortar attack in western Iraq, a U.S. Marine spokesman said. Maj. T.V. Johnson said an unknown number were wounded and the death toll was expected to rise, but he would not elaborate.

Two U.S. soldiers and two members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were killed in a roadside bomb attack in northwest Baghdad.

A U.S. soldier was killed and 10 others wounded when a coalition base came under attack from homemade bombs and small arms near the northern city of Kirkuk.

The deaths brought the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the war began to 752 -- 548 in combat and 204 in nonhostile incidents.

'A role to play' in Fallujah

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that former Republican Guard Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh "may have a role to play" in an Iraqi force set up to patrol Fallujah, but he won't lead the battalion.

Former Iraqi generals have said they would put together a force of about 1,000 Iraqi troops, many of them veterans of the army under Saddam Hussein.

But despite earlier reports, Myers said Saleh "will not be their leader." Myers said on ABC's "This Week" that Saleh had not yet been vetted by the interim Iraqi defense ministry in Baghdad.

"He will not be the head. He may have a role to play, but that vetting has yet to take place," he said.

Myers said there were about 600 Iraqi troops in the unit in Fallujah, where U.S. Marines have been locked in a three-week standoff with insurgents.

Myers said the Iraqis had taken over security in the southern part of the city. He said the Marines "have moved a couple kilometers to the side to let them do that," but he denied they had withdrawn entirely, as the insurgents claimed.

"What we are trying to do is what we are trying to do throughout Iraq, is get Iraqis to help deal with this issue," Myers said.

Other developments

  • Myers denied reports of widespread and systematic abuse of inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison." But in an article published Sunday, The New Yorker magazine reported that an American general found evidence of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" of Iraqis held at the prison west of Baghdad that was infamous under Saddam Hussein's reign. (Full story)
  • Coalition forces were reported to have killed a deputy of Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose militia launched an uprising against U.S.-led troops. Four other associates died in Saturday's raid on the cleric's Hillah offices along with Adnan al-Anbaky -- al-Sadr's top deputy in the central Iraq town, according to an al-Sadr spokesman in Najaf, Sayid Hussam al-Hassani. (Full story)

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