More Hostages Taken in Iraq

Bump and Update: The militants are now threatening to kill and mutilate the American hostage, Thomas Hamill, if their terms aren't met within 12 hours.

"Our only demand is to remove the siege from the city of mosques," a spokesman said in a tape given to the Al-Jazeera television network. "If you don't respond within 12 hours ... he will be treated worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah."

Update: The Japanese hostages may be released within 24 hours.

Original Post

The militant group named Ahmed Yassin brigades now claims to have 30 hostages in Iraq. They are demanding the U.S. withdraw its forces from Iraq in return for release of the hostages. The group claims to have one American and one Canadian. Canada has no forces in Iraq.

On a related note, Colorado lost a much beloved member of the Winter Park ski community Thursday with the death of Michael Bloss in Iraq.

Bloss, an instructor with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, died in a firefight Thursday in Iraq, where the former soldier in British special services had traveled to provide security to private contractors. Back in Wales, Peter Bloss told the BBC that his son must have jumped at the opportunity to provide security in Iraq after his military experience. "As I was originally told, he was escorting these electrical workers who were working on redoing some cables or whatever, and they were attacked by a group of Iraqis," the father said. "And Michael got them to safety and then was shot dead. He spent two years in Northern Ireland during the real troubles and didn't have a scratch, and this happens now in Iraq."

Bloss was killed hours after ending this email t his friends:

We are expecting to be overrun tonight, and we may have to fight our way to a safe haven. Unfortunately all the safe havens are already under attack," Mike Bloss had written Wednesday in his last e-mail to a small group of friends. "I don't wish to alarm you. We'll probably be OK!"

R.I.P. Michael Bloss.

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