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Austrian Hostage Reportedly Killed In Iraq

Iraqi security officers at a checkpoint in central Baghdad (file photo) (AFP) November 17, 2006 -- An Austrian security guard taken hostage with four Americans in Iraq has reportedly been killed, with one of the U.S. captives seriously wounded.

From Iraqi police reports, it was not immediately clear whether the two were harmed when their convoy was attacked on November 16 or during fighting today between U.S. and British forces and gunmen in Safwan, a Sunni Arab-dominated town in southern Iraq.

Up to 14 people, including the Austrian and four Americans, were reported to have been abducted after a convoy of contractors was ambushed near the southern Iraqi city of Al-Nasiriyah.

The U.S. news broadcaster ABC cites U.S. defense officials as saying that initial reports indicate 19 trucks were seized and about 14 people detained.

The report said it was unclear whether the convoy, run by a Kuwaiti-based company called Crescent Security Group, had come to a stop at a checkpoint operated by real Iraqi police or by a Shi'ite militia.

(AP, Reuters, AFP)

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