British kidnap victim's mother collapses

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The Independent Online

The 86-year-old mother of Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage held by al-Qa'ida-linked terrorists in Iraq, collapsed yesterday for the second time during her son's 11-day ordeal.

The 86-year-old mother of Kenneth Bigley, the British hostage held by al-Qa'ida-linked terrorists in Iraq, collapsed yesterday for the second time during her son's 11-day ordeal.

Lil Bigley, who made a televised appeal to the kidnappers last week, was taken to hospital in Liverpool amid uncertainty about the fate of her 62-year-old son. A posting on an Islamic website yesterday said the group which seized Mr Bigley and two American colleagues from their house in the al-Mansur district of Baghdad on 16 September had killed him, but the Foreign Office said the claim did not appear credible.

The terror group Tawhid and Jihad, led by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had threatened to kill Mr Bigley unless Iraqi women were freed from prison. Last week it posted grisly footage on the internet of the beheading of the two Americans, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley. The British hostage was later shown making an appeal for Tony Blair to intervene to save his life. Britain insists it will not negotiate with terrorists.

The hostage crisis dragged on during another violent day in Iraq, with US troops striking what was said to be a meeting-point for fighters loyal to Zarqawi in Fallujah. A local doctor said at least eight Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded. A US Marine died in a bombing yesterday, bringing to five the number of Marines killed since Friday.

A single line on a little-known website claimed yesterday that: "Tawhid and Jihad announces that it has executed the British citizen" and said seven British soldiers had been kidnapped, but a military spokesman said all British troops in Iraq had been accounted for. A newspaper reported a claim that three British militants had joined Zarqawi's group.

As former Beirut hostage Terry Waite visited the Bigley family, two leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain arrived in Baghdad, hoping to secure Mr Bigley's release.

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