- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military, acting on a tip, raided a farmhouse yesterday and rescued an American held hostage for 10 months.

But the good news was tempered by two deadly bombings in the relatively secure southern region of Basra, one that killed four American security guards and a second in a crowded market that killed at least a dozen Iraqis and injured more than 20 others.

Roy Hallums, 57, was “in good condition and is receiving medical care,” a military statement said after U.S. forces freed him from an isolated farmhouse 15 miles south of Baghdad. The statement said the military had received a tip from an Iraqi prisoner.

In a telephone interview with CNN, the freed hostage’s ex-wife, Susan Hallums, said she had talked to her former husband.

“That’s the best phone call I’ve ever gotten,” she said in Los Angeles. “It was just very, very early this morning, and he called and said that he was free. Our prayers were answered.”

Mr. Hallums, formerly of Newport Beach, Calif., was kidnapped at gunpoint from his office in the Mansour district of Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2004. He was freed along with an Iraqi civilian who was not identified.

Mr. Hallums was working for the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Co., supplying food to the Iraqi army, when he was abducted along with two other foreigners after a gunbattle in Baghdad. An Iraqi guard and one attacker were killed. A Filipino, a Nepalese and three Iraqis also were seized, but later freed.

More than 200 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, and more than 30 have been killed.

The killing of the American contractors in southern Iraq was particularly noteworthy because attacks against Americans in the region of Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, are rare.

The powerful bomb flipped the guards’ white sport utility vehicle onto its roof in a ravine alongside a highway near Basra, a major oil center that is under the control of Britain’s 8,500-strong contingent in the south.

“All four individuals worked for a private security firm supporting the regional U.S. Embassy office in Basra,” U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Mitchell said in a statement.

A few hours later, in Basra’s central district, a car bomb detonated, killing 12 persons and wounding 22 in a district packed with restaurants and a market, hospital sources said.

The late-evening blast was a further shock for the mainly Shi’ite southern city, which has been relatively calm compared with regions farther north that are ravaged by an insurgency against the Shi’ite-led government by minority Sunni Arabs.

Despite a peaceful postwar history in the south, violence has spiked in the past two months.

On July 16, a roadside bomb in Amarah killed three British soldiers and wounded two. Two British soldiers died Monday in a roadside bombing west of Basra, bringing to 95 the number of fatalities British forces have suffered since the war began.

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