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US soldier shown captive on videotape
Updated: 2004-04-17 08:55

A videotape showing a uniformed man who identifies himself as a missing U.S. soldier was broadcast Friday on the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera.

A uniformed man who identified himself as Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin is shown on a videotape broadcast April 16, 2004 by Al-Jazeera.  [AP]
The tape shows six men -- four holding rifles and one with a pistol -- standing behind a man seated on the ground and wearing a U.S. Army uniform, who gives his name as Keith Matthew Maupin.

The man, who does not appear to have shaved in several days, wears a camouflage hat in the video.

"We have taken one of the U.S. soldiers hostage," the narrator said.

"He is in good health and being treated based on the tenets of Islamic law for the treatment of soldiers taken hostage. We will keep him until we trade him for our prisoners in the custody of the U.S. enemy. We want them to know -- and the whole world to know -- that when we took him in, he came out of his tank holding a white flag and he lay face down on the ground, just like other soldiers."

U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bruce Frame said Maupin is one of two U.S. soldiers unaccounted for since last Friday, when their fuel convoy came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire near Baghdad.

The poor-quality tape aired by Al Jazeera shows a white male identifying himself as Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin dressed in military fatigues sitting on the floor surrounded by masked gunmen April 16, 2004.  [Reuters]
Another tape was dropped off Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, and then turned over to Central Command in Doha, where officials were trying to verify its authenticity, Frame said.

Also missing since the attack is Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina. Both he and Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio, were with the Army's 724th Transportation Company out of Bartonsville, Illinois, and are listed as "duty-status whereabouts unknown" by the military.

Seven civilian contractors of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root are also missing since the fuel convoy attack.

The only one publicly identified as having been kidnapped is Thomas Hamill, a truck driver from Macon, Mississippi.

Hamill was shown on a separate videotape last week in which his captors said they would kill him if the United States did not withdraw its troops from the Sunni-majority city of Fallujah. The deadline to meet demands from his captors has passed.

Family, friends and supporters of Maupin -- who goes by the name Matt -- planned to rally in his support Friday night in Batavia.

The rally was scheduled before the videotape was broadcast.

Fallujah meeting goes well

A meeting Friday between representatives of the U.S.-led coalition and leaders from the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah went well and will resume Saturday, spokesmen for the two sides said.

Friday was the first day U.S. military and coalition officials entered into talks with Fallujah authorities for a comprehensive cease-fire.

Insurgent assaults in Fallujah, including the killing and mutilation of four U.S. security contractors March 31, spurred the Marines to launch an offensive against the resistance.

Hashem al-Hassani, deputy chief of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said residents want Fallujah to return to peace and normalcy, saying they are tired of the violent instability. He said the people of Fallujah are willing to reject criminal elements.

Richard Jones, a Coalition Provisional Authority representative, said the coalition has agreed to reposition some of its forces to enable vehicle access to the general hospital in Fallujah. He said there is some contact between authorities and the insurgents, and said the resistance is loosely organized.

Al-Hassani said they want to start collecting heavy weapons from the insurgents and want to bring back to the city some elements of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police.

Jones warned that "time is limited" for the discussions.

"We cannot just sit here and allow the situation to continue the way it is. There are literally tens of thousands of innocent people who are bottled up in the city and we don't want them to continue to be held hostage by these terrorists and militant groups."

Al-Sistani: 'Horrible tactics' in Fallujah

Also Friday, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq slammed the behavior of U.S.-led coalition forces in Fallujah and in the Shiite town of Najaf, saying the "occupation forces" have used "horrible tactics" throughout the country.

"The attacks have been ongoing for several days throughout a number of cities such as Baghdad and a number of provinces in the north, south, east and west where we have had a great number of civilian deaths," Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a statement.

Supporters of Pfc. Maupin applaud during a rally in his home town of Batavia, Ohio, Friday.

"Other unfortunate incidents include ... a number of government centers and institutions have been looted and pillaged while others were seized by some armed groups, a thing that has created a state of chaos and security disorder in a number of towns and the situation is going from bad to worse."

The ayatollah condemned the coalition's "horrible tactics" and "the means used by the occupation forces in handling the incidents."

He urged that differences be handled by "political and social forces" with "wisdom and through peaceful means" while shunning moves that would generate "more chaos and bloodshed."

Shiite Arabs comprise 60 percent of the country's population, giving the ayatollah's pronouncements high importance.

Meanwhile in Washington, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the United States and Great Britain will seek a U.N. resolution on Iraq, focusing on the handover of civil authority to Iraqis that is scheduled for June 30.

"The U.N. will have a central role as now in developing the programs and machinery" that will transform Iraq into a democracy, he said during a Rose Garden news conference after a meeting with U.S. President Bush.

The United Nations issued a news release saying U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed with the idea Thursday night during a meeting with Blair.

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