Expert attempts Iraq hostage release

The Indonesian government has sent its top crisis expert to Jordan to lead efforts to secure the release of two Indonesian journalists held hostage in Iraq.

    Aljazeera ran a video of the two reporters in captivity

    The head of the foreign ministry's special crisis handling team, Triono Wibowo, left late on Saturday accompanied by another member of staff, according to ministry spokesman Lutfi Rauf on Sunday. 

    "He will maintain contact with the local governments as well as with public figures there in an effort to help get the release of the two journalists," Rauf said. 

    He said Wibowo, who also assisted in the release of two Indonesian women seized in Iraq last year, would work with both the International Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations.

    Rauf did not provide more details. 

    But an official from the pair's employer, Metro TV, said on Saturday that company owner and media tycoon Surya Paloh would also travel to the region to seek their release. 

    Presidential call

    The two Indonesians were snatched on their way from Jordan to Iraq last week and were shown on Aljazeera by armed fighters demanding Jakarta explain their presence in the country. 

    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday called for their safe release, saying they had no political agenda and were seeking to inform Indonesians about the plight of Iraqis. 

    Indonesia, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population, was firmly opposed to the US-led invasion in 2003 and subsequent occupation of Iraq. 

    The two Indonesians were being held by a previously unknown Islamist group, the Jaish al-Mujahidin. 

    Meutya, a reporter, and cameraman Budiyanto were shown by Aljazeera holding their passports up to the camera, flanked by two fighters. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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