Miliband calls for Iraq hostages' immediate release

The Foreign Secretary has called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of five British hostages held in Iraq for nearly two years.



The men - who were civilian contractors - were seized by dozens of gunmen in Baghdad on May 29 2007.

In a statement released ahead of the abduction's two-year anniversary, David Miliband spoke of the "anguish" suffered by their families, saying: "We call on those holding all hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally and return them safely to their families where they belong."

The kidnap victims - who have not been officially named - are IT consultant Peter Moore and four security guards.

They were abducted by about 40 gunmen wearing police uniforms at the Iraqi Finance Ministry.

Videos of the captives have since been released following their capture, the last of which in March showed Mr Moore saying they were being treated well and urging the British government to secure their release.

In a previous video, broadcast by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television in December 2007, the kidnappers threatened to kill the men unless British troops were pulled out of Iraq within 10 days.

Mr Miliband said: "I don't think that any of us can imagine their ordeal, nor the anguish that their families and friends have had to suffer during this dreadful time.

"Our thoughts are with them all as they continue to endure the pain of being separated from their loved ones."

He added that he was "totally committed" to securing the men's release.

"There is a dedicated team from across government, including people on the ground in Baghdad, working tirelessly with the Iraqi authorities and Coalition partners to help bring this about."

Mr Miliband also said Iraq - where British combat operations formally ended earlier this month - was "a different place to that of two years ago".

"There are signs of progress and reconciliation as the Iraqi people show their commitment to a democratic and peaceful future.

"Hostage-taking has no part in that future. We call on those holding all hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally and return them safely to their families where they belong."

Mr Moore is thought to have worked for BearingPoint, an American management consultancy, while the other four hostages were working for Canadian firm GardaWorld as security guards.

At the time of their kidnapping, Iraqi officials blamed the Mahdi Army, the militia controlled by the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

It was thought to be a retaliatory attack for the killing by British forces of the militia's commander in Basra, southern Iraq, a week earlier.

But al-Sadr's followers have denied responsibility and suspicion has since fallen on splinter groups which the US believes are controlled by Iran.

In February last year a video of Mr Moore was released, in which he said: "My name is Peter Moore, I have been held here for nearly eight months now."

He asked Gordon Brown to free nine Iraqis in exchange for their release.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada