The British foreign secretary David Miliband called today for the immediate and unconditional release of five British men held hostage in Iraq, ahead of the second anniversary of their capture. He said British and Iraqi officials were working "tirelessly" for the safe release of the men, an IT consultant and his four bodyguards who were abducted from the Iraqi finance ministry in Baghdad on May 29 2007.
"We call on those holding all hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally and return them safely to their families where they belong," Mr Miliband said in a statement released by the Foreign Office. "I don't think that any of us can imagine their ordeal nor the anguish that their families and friends have had to suffer during this dreadful time," he added. Mr Miliband said British authorities were "totally committed" to working for their release and thanked the Iraqi government for their support.
"There is a dedicated team from across government, including people on the ground in Baghdad, working tirelessly with the Iraqi authorities and (Britain's) coalition partners to help bring this about," he said. Mr Miliband added that Iraq had changed over the past two years, noting signs of reconciliation and saying "hostage-taking has no part in that future." The Foreign Office said in March that the group who seized the men had sent a video featuring one of the captives to the British embassy in Baghdad.
It did not elaborate but British news programme Channel 4 News said the video showed IT consultant Peter Moore saying the group was being treated well. In a video released in July, the group claimed that one of the five men had committed suicide, but this has not been confirmed. *AFP