Details of Death Come Amid More Violence
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The body of an American man taken hostage with three other Christian peace activists late last year was found near a railroad line in Baghdad with gunshots to his head and chest, Iraqi police said Saturday.
Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was the fifth American hostage killed in Iraq. There was no word on his fellow captives, a Briton and two Canadians, who were last seen without Fox in a brief, silent video dated Feb. 28 and broadcast Tuesday on Al-Jazeera television.
Details emerged about Fox's death as at least six more people, including an Iraqi TV journalist and a human rights activist, were killed in drive-by shootings Saturday and two bombs targeted U.S. convoys in Baghdad and north of the capital, wounding one soldier.
U.S. and Iraqi forces also conducted a series of raids, arresting 20 suspected insurgents and seizing a large weapons cache -- including artillery shells, mortar rounds, anti-tank missiles and homemade bombs.
The U.S. command in Baghdad confirmed Saturday that Fox's body was picked up by American forces on Thursday evening, although it provided no information on the condition.
State Department spokesman Noel Clay announced the death late Friday in Washington, saying the FBI verified that the body was that of Fox and his family was notified.
"The State Department continues to call for the unconditional release of all other hostages" in Iraq, Clay said.
An Iraqi police patrol also was at the scene, said Falah al-Mohammedawi, an official with the Interior Ministry. He said Fox was found with his hands tied, gunshot wounds to his head and chest, al-Mohammedawi said.
Fox's body was found near a railroad line running through Dawoudi, a mixed Sunni-Shiite area that has been largely shielded from the killing that has raged in other Baghdad neighborhoods. Shocked local residents condemned his abduction and killing Saturday.
"These acts are terrorist ones and will hinder the political process and distort the reputation of Iraq," said Dhamir al-Samaraie, who had come to have a look at the spot where Fox was found.
The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigades claimed responsibility for kidnapping the four Christian Peacemaker Teams members -- Fox, Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74 -- who disappeared Nov. 26.
His Chicago-based group said: "We mourn the loss of Tom Fox, who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone."
"In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done," Christian Peacemaker co-directors Doug Pritchard and Carol Rose said in a statement.
Fox had visited detained Iraqis, escorted shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals, and worked to form an Islamic Peacemaker Team, said Paul Slattery, a member of the Langley Hill Friends Meeting that Fox, a Quaker, also attended in McLean, Va.
"He actually believed in his heart that he would better them by his conviction and his beliefs and his skills, and I think largely succeeded," Slattery said. "What he leaves behind is a tremendous challenge for the rest of us and a guiding force."
At least 250 foreigners have been kidnapped in the nearly three years since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq, and at least 40 have been killed.
In one of the most high-profile cases, Jill Carroll, a freelance writer for The Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped Jan. 7 in Baghdad. She has appeared in three videotapes delivered by her kidnappers to Arab satellite television stations.
Carroll's kidnappers initially threatened to kill her unless all female detainees in Iraq are released. They later amended their demands, which have not been made public. The Monitor launched a campaign on Iraqi television stations Wednesday asking Iraqis to: "Please help with the release of journalist Jill Carroll."
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