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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Soldier Taken Hostage in April May Be Dead

June 29, 2004|From Times staff and wire reports

BATAVIA, Ohio — Army officials Monday visited family members of a soldier taken hostage in Iraq in April, telling them the military was investigating a videotape that might show the execution of Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin.

A tape broadcast by Al Jazeera satellite television showed what militants said was the execution of a U.S. soldier who was captured in Iraq in April. The footage showed the back of a man, who was not identified, and a militant shooting him.

Maupin, 20, has been missing since April 9, when his military fuel convoy was ambushed near Baghdad. Maupin's captors sent a video to Al Jazeera a week after he was seized showing Maupin sitting on a floor, surrounded by masked and armed guards.

For months, the people of this village about 15 miles east of Cincinnati have decorated neighborhoods with yellow ribbons. But as word spread about the military vehicles parked in front of the Maupin home, the town began to assume the worst. Dozens of residents gathered in an impromptu vigil along Main Street late in the afternoon. As rain began to fall, they wept.

But military officials Monday said that Maupin was still classified as "captured."

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