Friday, December 29, 2006

U.S. Believes Abducted Contractors Alive

The U.S. Embassy said it believes four American security contractors and an Austrian remain in captivity after their kidnapping in southern Iraq six weeks ago. The men, including former St. Louis Park, Minn., police officer Paul Reuben, went missing Nov. 16 when a large convoy of trucks being escorted by their Crescent Security Group was hijacked on a highway near Safwan, a city on the border with Kuwait. Suspected militiamen dressed in Iraqi police uniforms ambushed the convoy, taking 14 hostages, including the five security guards, and nine truck drivers who were later released.
Missing Minnesota contractor Paul Reuben
"At this time, U.S. officials believe the American citizens are still being held by their captors," said Lou Fintor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. "The State Department continues to be in touch with the families of the U.S. citizens. We strongly condemn the kidnapping and call on the hostage-takers to release these people immediately," Fintor said. A video of the kidnapped Americans reportedly surfaced this week, showing them alive and in good condition. The footage was believed to have been made about a month ago. If authentic, it would be the first proof that all five men survived the ambush.