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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 May, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
US hostage in Iraq gains freedom
Hamill
Hamill was working as a tanker driver when he was taken hostage
An American hostage has been found by US forces in Iraq, the military says.

Thomas Hamill was found south of Tikrit after he apparently escaped from his captors, US Army spokesman Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt told reporters.

Mr Hamill, a driver for a US oil firm, was said to be in "good health" and "ready to get back to work".

He was one of several employees held since an attack on a convoy west of Baghdad on 9 April. The bodies of four other hostages have since been found.

It was not clear how Mr Hamill ended up near Tikrit, which is about 150 km (90 miles) north of where the convoy attack occurred.

US military units were patrolling a petroleum pipeline when Mr Hamill approached and identified himself.

"Mr Hamill apparently escaped from a building," Mr Kimmitt said.

"He has spoken to his family. He is now ready to get back to work," he said.

In the US, Mr Hamill's wife, Kellie, said she received a call telling her that her husband had been found alive.

She said it was "the best wakeup call I've ever had," in remarks quoted by the Associated Press.

Television footage

Mr Hamill was one of several foreign nationals abducted in early April as violence flared up in Iraq.

Mr Hamill, 43, went missing when the fuel convoy he was travelling in was ambushed by Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad.

Two US soldiers and six other employees of American oil firm Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) also went missing after the attack.

Iraq

Following the ambush, Mr Hamill appeared in video footage aired on Arabic TV, in which his captors threatened to kill him if the US siege of Falluja was not lifted.

The bodies of four of the KBR employees were later found in a shallow grave near the site of the attack.

The body of the soldier, Sgt Elmer Krause, was also found and identified on 23 April . The fate of the remaining US soldier and the two contractors is unknown.

Mr Hamill's freedom came as US marines began withdrawing from Falluja, handing over to an Iraqi military force.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Lisa Hampele
"Five others captured at the same time were killed"




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