HOUSTON -- Seven civilian employees of a US company are now missing in Iraq, joining a growing number of foreigners from at least 12 countries to be snatched in recent days.
The military said seven employees of a
''Our work is difficult and in a dangerous environment, and we are angered and deeply saddened by this situation," Halliburton Co. said in a statement.
Only one of the seven, Thomas Hamill, a 43-year-old truck driver from Macon, Miss., is known to have been abducted. His captors have threatened to kill and mutilate him unless US troops end their assault on the city of Fallujah. The deadline passed Sunday with no word on his fate. Yesterday, family members made a televised appeal for his safe return.
Kellie Hamill read a statement intended for her husband and his captors. ''I would first like to say to my husband, Tommy: We love and miss you very much." To those holding him captive, she said, ''Our hopes are that you will release him unharmed and as soon as possible."
She also offered thanks for the support and prayers for Hamill and his family coming in from around the country.
Halliburton declined to identify the six other missing workers or discuss the details of the attack in order to protect their privacy, spokeswoman Wendy Hall said Monday. The company said the attacks happened during a routine mission for the US Army Materiel Command.
Hall confirmed yesterday that the seven employees were involved in a single ambush.
A State Department official speaking on the condition of anonymity said yesterday that four mutilated bodies have been found in Iraq. The remains had not been identified, and the official had no further information on the discovery.
Hall said Halliburton was aware that remains had been recovered in the country, but added that there had been no identifications.
''While we are not yet certain of the identification of these brave individuals, and no matter who they are, we at Halliburton are saddened to learn of these deaths and are working with the authorities so the families can begin the grieving and healing process," Hall said.
Dan Senor, a coalition spokesman, said yesterday that about 40 foreign hostages from 12 countries are being held by Iraqi insurgents and that the coalition would not negotiate with ''terrorists or kidnappers" to gain the hostages' release. He would not comment on efforts to free the captives.
More than 24,000 Kellogg, Brown & Root employees and subcontractors are working in the Kuwait-Iraq region, Hall said. Their duties include extinguishing oil well fires and cleaning oil sites.