Seven American contractors, including American trucker Thomas Hamill of Macon, MS, are among those missing in action in Iraq, according to a statement from Halliburton Corp. and its Kellogg Brown and Root subsidiary.
The U.S. company, which employed the contractors, confirmed that Hamill was kidnapped during an assault on one of the company's routine missions for the U.S. Army. Published news reports say Hamill was snatched Friday by gunmen who attacked the fuel convoy he was guarding.
In a U.S. Department of Defense briefing Monday, Lt. General Ricardo S. Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, said the attack occurred in the Abu-Ghraib area.
Six of Hamill's colleagues and two American soldiers are also missing from the same convoy, but are listed as "unaccounted for." The names of those eight individuals have not been released by the Department of Defense or Halliburton. All the other missing Halliburton employees were linked to the fuel convoy that included Hamill, but it is not known whether all were truckers.
"This is a grueling and difficult development, and we are working diligently to assist the families and the military in any way we can," the statement read. "KBR employees and subcontractors have all made courageous decisions to work in Iraq. Daily, they risk their personal security to serve the troops and deliver much-needed services to the Iraqi people.
"Also, we at Halliburton and KBR remain anxious but prayerful that our colleague, Thomas Hamill, will be returned safely. In these agonizing moments, the company is doing everything possible to assist the family as well as our employees who must summon all of their patience and hopefulness in this difficult period.
"Our thoughts remain with our six other missing colleagues and the personnel assisting with the search-and-rescue effort, and we remain hopeful for our other co-workers' safe return."
With more than 700 trucks on Kuwaiti and Iraqi roads, Kellogg Brown and Root estimates its drivers log about 3.3 million miles per month. The company and its subcontractors have lost about 30 personnel while performing services in Kuwait and Iraq.
--by René Tankersley, staff writer
René Tankersley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.