Jesse Jackson takes up cause of abucted driver

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The Independent US

The Rev Jesse Jackson, the black civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, has begun mediation efforts to secure the release of Thomas Hamill, an American lorry driver abducted in Iraq 10 days ago after an ambush on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The Rev Jesse Jackson, the black civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, has begun mediation efforts to secure the release of Thomas Hamill, an American lorry driver abducted in Iraq 10 days ago after an ambush on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Mr Jackson, who has a successful record of negotiating for the release of American hostages, including in Iraq in 1991 and in Kosovo in 1999, has issued a general appeal to Mr Hamill's captors and intends to contact Iraqi religious leaders in the next few days.

"Mr Hamill came to Iraq not to wage war against any group or religion, but to serve the Iraqi people and thus help relieve their pain and sufferings," Mr Jackson said in a statement.

It was an Iraqi religious group which brokered the release of three Japanese civilian hostages last week. Mr Hamill, meanwhile, was one of seven US nationals reported missing after the ambush on their fuel convoy.

He is the only one known to have survived the attack and to have been taken hostage, because he was shown in a video broadcast on the Arab satellite service al-Jazeera and elsewhere. Four burnt and mutilated bodies, believed to belong to security guards accompanying the convoy, were discovered in a shallow grave at the abduction site last week. The identities of the bodies have yet to be confirmed.

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