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Dane believed abducted in Iraq found dead

/ Source: NBC News and news services

A Danish man, who had been missing in Iraq for more than a week and who was believed to have been abducted, has been found dead, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

In a statement issued in Copenhagen, the Danish Foreign Ministry said it was notified about the discovery of the body of the missing Dane late Tuesday night by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

The man, whose identity has not been made public, was found dead on April 12 by Iraqi police, the ministry said. No details about how he died or where was found were immediately available.

Danish media reports have said the man, who was reported missing April 11, was a Copenhagen resident in his early 30s who went to Iraq to start a private sewerage company with a friend in Basra.

About 50 foreigners reported kidnapped
About 50 foreigners from at least 12 countries have been reported abducted in recent weeks in Iraq and at least two — an American and an Italian — have been killed.

At least two Americans remain unaccounted for after being taken hostage.

Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss., an employee of private U.S. contract company Halliburton Corp., was seen on videotape after an attack on a fuel convoy outside Baghdad on April 9. At least three of his co-workers died in the attack, Halliburton said in a statement on Tuesday.

Two Army reserve soldiers, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin and Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, also were unaccounted for after the attack. Maupin has been seen on videotape disseminated by his captors.

Dan Senor, a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, said there would be no negotiation with the insurgents about releasing hostages.

Halliburton identified the slain contractors as Stephen Hulett, 48, of Manistee, Mich.; Jack Montague, 52, of Pittsburg, Ill.; and Jeffery Parker, 45, of Lake Charles, La., and said their bodies were among four found in a shallow grave a few days after the ambush. Four other  Halliburton workers remain missing after the ambush.

The fourth body found in the shallow grave has not been identified publicly. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmett, the deputy director of U.S. operations in Iraq, declined to give the nationality of the victim, saying an announcement would be made by the home country. It was not immediately clear if the fourth body was that of the Danish man.

Before the deaths announced Tuesday, Halliburton had said that about 30 Halliburton contractors had died while working in Iraq and Kuwait, performing jobs for the government that range from extinguishing oil fires to delivering fuel and food. Thousands of people have signed on as contract workers because of the good pay. Workers can earn up to $120,000 tax-free for a year’s work, including overtime.

2nd Canadian kidnapped
Canada said Tuesday that another of its citizens had been kidnapped and urged all Canadians still in the country to strongly consider getting out.

A Foreign Ministry official said the man, Mohammed Rifat, 41, who disappeared April 8 somewhere between Baghdad and the nearby town of Abu Ghraib, was alive and was being held by an unknown group.

“The government has an absolute interest in ensuring that he is freed as quickly as possible,” said Dan McTeague, the ministry official responsible for helping Canadians who run into trouble abroad.

“Those Canadians who are there ought to consider very strongly getting out as quickly as possible.”

CBC television quoted family members as saying Rifat, who was born in Iraq, had been carrying out contract work at a prison in Abu Ghraib.

A Canadian humanitarian worker, Fadi Fadel, who was taken hostage in Iraq on the same day that Rifat went missing, was freed by his captors last week and was due back in Canada later  Tuesday.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday that he expected three Italian civilians being held hostage in Iraq to be released shortly.

“There has been a delay but we are not aware that there is any obstacle,” Berlusconi told reporters during a visit to the Russian town of Lipetsk. He said no money had been paid for their release.

A fourth Italian security worker abducted last week was killed by the kidnappers, who demanded that Italy withdraw its 2,700 troops in the U.S.-led coalition from Iraq.

Pope John Paul II appealed Sunday for the release of hostages in Iraq, calling on the kidnappers to show “humanity.”

“I am particularly close in thought and prayer to the families of all those who fear for the fate of their loved ones, especially all those who have been taken hostage,” the pope said in his weekly appearance from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. “I invite the kidnappers to have feelings of humanity.”