Iraq hostage 'transferred to new captors'

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The Independent Online

The brother of British hostage Ken Bigley today said he believed he is now in the hands of a more moderate group in Iraq.

The brother of British hostage Ken Bigley today said he believed he is now in the hands of a more moderate group in Iraq.

Media reports in Kuwait claimed the fundamentalist Tawhid and Jihad group, which snatched Mr Bigley in Baghdad three weeks ago, was considering selling the 62-year-old on to another militant group.

The new captors, said to be the same organisation that last week released two Italian women, would then demand a large cash ransom.

Mr Bigley's brother, Paul Bigley, today said it was his "gut feeling" that the transfer had already been made.

Speaking from his home in the Netherlands, he said: "It is my gut feeling, and the gut feeling of about 25 prominent people in Kuwait, that Ken is being held by a new group.

"The people telling me this are decent, honourable and high-level people, so I trust their instincts.

"Whether it will be confirmed remains to be seen.

"If it has taken place, then it can only be a positive thing.

"I would much rather be dealing with people talking money than ones holding a government to ransom. Funds can always be found, somehow."

Mr Bigley, originally from Liverpool, was working as a civil engineer in the Iraqi capital when he was kidnapped along with two American colleagues 19 days ago.

The American men were both executed in filmed beheadings.

Last week, a video of Mr Bigley was released, showing him held inside a crude metal cage.

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