Archive for Sunday, March 12, 2006

Aid worker was apparently tortured

March 12, 2006

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— An American aid worker taken hostage with three other peace activists was apparently tortured before he was shot in the head and chest and his body dumped near a railroad line in Baghdad, Iraqi police said Saturday.

Tom Fox, a 54-year-old member of Christian Peacemaker Teams from Clear Brook, Va., was the fifth American hostage killed in Iraq. There was no immediate word on his fellow captives, a Briton and two Canadians.

The U.S. command in Baghdad confirmed that Fox's body was picked up by American forces on Thursday evening, although it provided no information on the condition.

Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said Fox was found with his hands tied and gunshot wounds to his head and chest. There were cuts on his body and bruises on his head, indicating torture, he said. The corpse was dressed in Iraqi-made clothing.

Fox's body was found near a railway line in Dawoudi, a mixed Sunni-Shiite area that has been largely shielded from violence. Shocked local residents on Saturday condemned Fox's abduction and killing.

"These acts are terrorist ones and will hinder the political process and distort the reputation of Iraq," said Dhamir al-Samaraie, who had come to see where Fox was found.

The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for kidnapping the four Christian Peacemaker Teams members, who disappeared Nov. 26.

Three of them - Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74 - were seen in a video dated Feb. 28 that was broadcast Tuesday on Al-Jazeera television. Fox did not appear in the brief, silent videotape.

In the West Bank, many Palestinians expressed sorrow over the killing of Fox, who had traveled there to protest for their cause before he was taken hostage in Iraq.

"I'm calling for the kidnappers to release the other hostages," said Hisham Sharabati, a human rights activist who met Fox. "This killing harmed the Palestinian and Iraqi causes because the hostages were working for peace."

Still missing is Jill Carroll, a freelance writer for The Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped Jan. 7 in Baghdad. She has appeared in three videotapes delivered by her kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations.

An Iraqi journalist, meanwhile, was gunned down on his way to work Saturday, becoming at least the fifth media figure killed since an outbreak of sectarian violence after the bombing late last month of a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad.

Amjad Hameed, a journalist for Iraqiya television, was attacked by gunmen who shot him in the head and chest while he was being driven to his job. His driver, Anwar Turki, died later in the hospital.

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