Captured drivers set to be released

India's foreign ministry expects the imminent release of seven truck drivers held captive in Iraq after negotiations with their captors proved fruitful.

    The seven truck drivers were captured on 21 July

    The news came after direct talks between an Iraqi negotiator and the employer of the seven men, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmad said in New Delhi.


    The captives, all truck drivers working for Kuwait Gulf Link Co

    Ltd (KGL), were captured on 21 July by the previously unknown Islamic Secret Army-Holders of the Black Banners group.


    The captors said the seven men would be killed unless their

    employer pulled out of Iraq.


    "All indications pointed to a positive outcome to the crisis,"

    Ahmad said.


    "What we have learned so far is that face-to-face negotiations have taken place between [negotiator] Shaikh al-Dulaimi and senior representatives of the KGL company today, as a result of which the way has reportedly been cleared for the release of the hostages," he added.


    The minister hinted the captured truck drivers - three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian - could be freed on Sunday.


    "You [the media] have waited for 17 days, please wait for a day," he said.


    But he urged caution saying: "It must be appreciated that

    unless we have authoritative and clear confirmation that the

    hostages have been released, we must wait with patience and with hope. 



    "What I can confirm, however, is that all indications at this

    juncture point to a positive outcome to the crisis. We will keep you informed about any fresh developments."



    SOURCE: Agencies


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