Iranian hostages freed in Iraq

Four Iranian pilgrims abducted by an armed group in Iraq have been released, an Iranian diplomat says.

    Many foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq

    "The four have arrived at our consulate in Karbala" in southern Iraq, from where they will be returned home, the diplomat said on Wednesday.

    The four men were seized, along with two Iranian women, on Monday as they travelled in a minibus near Balad, 75km north of the capital Baghdad.

    The two women were released unharmed on Tuesday.   

    Other hostages

    In a separate development, a Christian peace group said it blamed the US and Britain for the kidnapping of four of its activists in Iraq, saying their capture was the direct result of the occupation of Iraq.

    After a long hiatus in the abduction of foreigners, video footage broadcast on Tuesday showed the four held captive by masked, armed men.


    A peace group blamed the US 
    and UK for the abduction

    Christian Peacemaker Teams, a group that has had activists in Iraq since October 2002, said it was saddened by the footage of their workers, who they said were working against the occupation of Iraq.

    "We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the US and UK government due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people," the group said.

    Those abducted were listed as American Tom Fox, 54, Briton Norman Kember, 74, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.


    Shot dead


    Meanwhile, nine Iraqis employed on a US base were shot dead on Wednesday as they boarded a minibus in the village of Abu Saida, northeast of Baquba, police said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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