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Europe

Britain names two dead hostages

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-22

Iraqi authorities have handed over the bodies of two British hostages kidnapped in Iraq in 2007, according to British Foreign Minister David Miliband. The men were kidnapped during a raid on the Iraqi Finance Ministry building.

REUTERS - The dead bodies of two Britons taken hostage in Iraq in 2007 and handed to UK officials in Baghdad late on Friday have been provisionally identified, the British government said on Sunday.

 

The men were among five Britons seized by an armed Shi'ite militant group from inside a finance ministry building in a raid in the Iraqi capital.

 

The Foreign Office said in a statement the dead men were "highly likely" to be Jason Creswell, originally from Glasgow in Scotland, and Jason Swindlehurst, from northwest England.

 

"Officials are in close contact with all the families," it said. "We continue to do everything we can towards the safe release of the other hostages."

 

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Saturday the three other hostages were in "grave danger" after the Iraqi authorities passed the two men's remains to the British.

 

No details about where, when or how they died have been made public. Unconfirmed media reports last year said one of the hostages had killed himself.

 

Peter Moore, a computer instructor, was kidnapped along with four of his bodyguards, working for Canadian security firm GardaWorld. A company spokesman said he was aware of the reports of the confirmation of the two deaths but had no comment.

 

The hostage-takers have released several videos of the men since their capture. One clip, aired by Dubai's Al Arabiya television, showed Moore calling for Britain to release nine Iraqis in return for their freedom.

 

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday he was "saddened and dismayed" by the men's deaths.

 

Britain sent about 45,000 soldiers to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple former President Saddam Hussein. It now has only about 500 troops in the country.

 

Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite said the only hope of freeing the remaining hostages lies with the Iraqis.

 

"It is something that is exceptionally difficult for any Western negotiator to do, almost impossible," he told BBC television.

 

Date created : 2009-06-21

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