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Gunmen in Iraq Apparently Seize American Hostage - 2004-04-10

Gunmen in Iraq have seized another hostage, apparently an American civilian, near Baghdad.

A reporter for Australian ABC television who filmed the American being taken away by his captors said the man had been wounded in the arm. The hostage, who identified himself as Thomas Hamill, told the reporter he had been riding in a highway convoy that was attacked Friday.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi group said it is holding 30 Japanese, Bulgarian, Israeli, American, Spanish and South Korean hostages. The group threatened to kill them unless U.S. forces end their blockade of Fallujah.

But the claim, shown on Al-Arabiya television, did not include pictures of any hostages, and the group's statement has not been independently confirmed.

Earlier, Japan's Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa, arrived in Amman, Jordan, to coordinate efforts to rescue three Japanese citizens who were kidnapped in Iraq.

The kidnappers have threatened to burn their captives alive unless Japan withdraws its forces from Iraq within three days. But Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said he will not give in to the kidnappers' demands.

In Tokyo, about 1,000 demonstrators demanded that the Japanese troops be brought home. Relatives of the hostages also called for a troop withdrawal.

The kidnapping is overshadowing a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who arrived in Tokyo late Saturday. Mr. Cheney is expected to urge Japan to keep its troops in Iraq, despite the kidnapping.

Vice President Cheney made no statement on his arrival in Tokyo. He will meet Monday with Prime Minister Koizumi.

The vice president's trip to Asia also will take him to China and South Korea, where he will hold talks on efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.