President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Saturday two Indonesian journalists were being held hostage in Iraq, confirming reports after they were declared missing.

 

"I have just received a reconfirmation that indeed the two Indonesian nationals have been taken hostage in a place in Iraq," Susilo said at the presidential palace in Jakarta 

 

He appealed for the release of the pair, who Aljazeera earlier said were claimed to have been kidnapped by a previously unknown group, the Jaish al-Mujahidin, or Army of Warriors.

 

Televised appeal

 

"I, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of the Republic of Indonesia, convey that the two journalists are truly only carrying out their journalistic duties," the president said.

 

Susilo said the journalists
had no part in the Iraq war

"There is no political involvement. There is no involvement by the two in the conflict," he said.

 

"Again they are only carrying out their journalistic work and, therefore, I on behalf of the Indonesian people appeal for the release of the two journalists immediately so they can return home to Indonesia.

 

"Their families are very worried and we, the Indonesian people, also truly want the innocent pair to return home and resume their journalistic duty."

 

Taken near Ramadi

 

Earlier, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry in Jakarta said the pair, working for the private Metro TV station, were in a rented car in Ramadi on Tuesday when they were last heard from.

 

"We are very worried about our staff. Hopefully they are just uncontactable at the moment, but we cannot rule out the fact that they may have been kidnapped," Don Bosco, Metro TV's news director told Aljazeera.net earlier in the week before the video was aired.

 

Foreign affairs spokesman Marty Natalegawa said in Jarkarta: "We have received information from the owner of a car rented by two journalists from Metro TV that on 15 February their vehicle heading for Ramadi was halted by an armed group. 

 

"We do not want to use the word kidnapped or that they have been held hostage at the moment," he said, adding that the two had been "intercepted".

 

Indlieb Farazi contributed to this report.