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A Deadly 24 Hours for Americans, Iraqis

Marine Helicopter Ferrying Troops Crashes in West

By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 26, 2005; Page A16

BAGHDAD, Jan. 25 -- Six American soldiers, five Iraqi police officers and a senior judge were killed during a deadly 24-period spanning Monday night and Tuesday, and Arab satellite television broadcast a videotape purportedly showing an American hostage pleading for his life with a rifle pointed at his head.

Early Wednesday, a Marine transport helicopter crashed while ferrying troops near the Syrian border, and search and rescue operations were underway, the military announced.

A man identified as Roy Hallums, an American taken hostage in Iraq Nov. 1, pleads for help from Arab leaders in a video aired on al-Jazeera television. (Reuters)

No immediate details were available. The military said a statement confirming casualties would be released separately. The Marines routinely transport troops in large, Vietnam-vintage Chinook helicopters that commanders prefer to fly at night because of the large and lumbering profile they present to ground fire. The crash occurred at 1:20 a.m. local time.

Al-Jazeera television identified the man on the video as Roy Hallums, 56, a civilian contractor who was kidnapped Nov. 1 from his Saudi employer's Iraq headquarters in Baghdad. He was shown rubbing his hands together and calling on Arab leaders to save him.

"I am please asking for help because my life is in danger, because it's been proved I worked for American forces," the man said. Until the broadcast, Hallums had not been heard from or seen since his kidnapping. "I'm not asking for any help from President Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those who've been pushed into this hellhole."

The hostage said he wanted help from Arab rulers, in particular the Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi, "because he's known for helping those who are suffering."

Unlike other videotapes showing foreign hostages, no hooded figures appeared in the broadcast and no group claimed to be holding Hallums.

Hallums was seized along with Robert Tarongoy, a Filipino civilian, in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood. The two were working for a company that does catering for the Iraqi army, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. and Iraqi security forces killed Monday night and Tuesday died in a several incidents, including a road accident that killed five soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division.

The five died when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled into a canal at 8 p.m. Monday near the town of Khan Bani Saad northeast of Baghdad. Two soldiers were injured in the accident.

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death among U.S. troops in Iraq, according to a recent report by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. Of 1,257 American soldiers killed in Iraq between March 2003 and November 2004, more than 50 died in vehicle accidents.

The sixth American fatality Monday night was a soldier with Task Force Baghdad who died of injuries suffered when his patrol was attacked with a roadside bomb, according to a military statement.

The casualties among Iraqi security forces also were victims of several attacks, according to the Associated Press. In the deadliest incident, at least four police officers died and three were wounded in an ambush at a polling center in the Rashad neighborhood of Baghdad. The Interior Ministry could not confirm the deaths.

A police captain at the Muthana police station, who declined to give his name because of fear of being targeted by insurgents, said police received a call that a man with a gun was threatening people at the Dome of the Rock high school. The captain said nine officers responded to the call.

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