A British military spokesman meanwhile said that UK troops had killed two gunmen in a raid near the border town of Safwan, close to where the convoy was attacked after crossing from Kuwait.
 
But the spokesman said that raid was not related to the search for the missing foreigners.
 
Convoy attacked
 
The four Americans and one Austrian were initially reported missing.
 
They were apparently abducted when the convoy that they were escorting was stopped at a fake police checkpoint as it was travelling northwards from the Kuwaiti border.
 
The convoy was being operated by the Crescent Security Group, a company that works mostly in Iraq and has its operations based in Kuwait.
 
Many of its managers and employees are American. A spokesman on Friday declined to comment, saying that officials from the group were discussing the situation.
 
At the end of Friday, confusion still surrounded the fate of the five men, with some senior police in Basra denying that any of the hostages had been freed.
 

Source: Agencies