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American hostage Thomas Hamill attends SBC church

MACON, Miss. (BP)–The one known American hostage in Iraq attends a Southern Baptist congregation in a small Mississippi town where hundreds are holding vigils and praying for his safety.

Thomas Hamill, 43, of Macon, Miss., was captured April 9 when Iraqi militants ambushed the fuel convoy he was guarding.

Hamill appeared on a video broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation late last week. On the tape, militants threatened to treat Hamill worse than the four Americans whose bodies were mutilated and hung from a bridge in Fallujah earlier this month if U.S. forces did not withdraw from the embattled city within 12 hours, according to The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. That deadline passed at 10 p.m. Saturday with no word on Hamill.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. general in Iraq, said April 12 that in addition to Hamill, seven employees from the same private company, Kellogg, Brown & Root, are missing. The employees, along with two missing American soldiers, were part of the ambushed convoy.

Hamill had been working in Iraq since October, according to The Clarion-Ledger, as a truck driver for KBR, a division of Halliburton. He had previously been employed as a truck driver in the United States and owned a dairy farm. When financial problems led Hamill to sell the farm, he took the job in Iraq in order to support his family, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

Hamill, who attends Calvary Baptist Church in Macon, has a wife, Kellie, and two children, ages 12 and 14, his grandmother told The Clarion-Ledger. Vera Hamill had seen the footage of her grandson on television and was hoping for the best.

“It’s so hard to watch that,” she told The Clarion-Ledger. “I just hope and pray that God will let it work out.”

Attempts by Baptist Press to reach Hamill’s pastor, Greg Duncan, were unsuccessful at press time.

Duncan told The Clarion-Ledger he spent time with Hamill’s family April 10, and they need prayers. Friends and relatives stopped by the Hamill home on Sunday to offer support while police kept the media at bay, according to CNN.com.

“We’re all just praying for him,” Macon Mayor Dorothy Baker Hines told CNN. “That’s about all we can do right now. We’re going to show him our support. We’re going to have flags up — yellow ribbons, a prayer vigil, and we’ll continue to keep” praying.

During the past week, at least 30 civilians from 11 countries have been kidnapped in Iraq.

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