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US Soldier Captured by Iraqi Guerrillas - 2004-04-17

Iraqi guerrillas have paraded a captured American soldier before television cameras in a fresh show of defiance against the U.S. -led occupation in Iraq.

The Arabic television station al-Jazeerah broadcast pictures showing the 20-year-old American in the custody of armed gunmen. He is one of two U.S. soldiers missing since last week, when a convoy they were guarding was attacked near Baghdad.

Family members confirmed the soldier shown on the tape was Private Keith Maupin of the state of Ohio.

The insurgents holding the young man say they intend to trade him for some of their comrades held by coalition forces, but the U.S. military says it will not enter into any negotiations.

A businessman from the United Arab Emirates was kidnapped in the southern port of Basra Friday. In other parts of the country, insurgents released five other foreign hostages: three Czech journalists, a Chinese civilian and a Syrian-Canadian aid worker.

Hostage taking incidents have multiplied rapidly in Iraq during the past week. At least 24 civilians who were abducted have been freed, but kidnappers also killed one of their captives, an Italian man. Scores of other foreigners are still unaccounted for and are believed to have been kidnapped.

In Fallujah, Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials met for their first round of direct negotiations aimed at ending two weeks of violence in the town, which harbors many guerrillas. U.S. military officials agreed to reposition their troops to allow Fallujah's residents to reach a hospital.

Discussions are to continue Saturday, between U.S. officials, members of Iraq's Governing Council and people from Fallujah.

In other developments, Iran sent a diplomatic delegation to Iraq, reportedly to try to mediate an end to an uprising by Shi'ite Muslim followers of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The U.S.-led coalition, however, says the Iranian team has been told not to intervene in situation.