Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bodies of Two British Hostages Identified

In a tragic turn of events from Baghdad, two bodies turned over to British authorities Saturday have been identified as men kidnapped in Iraq more than two years ago. Via Times Online:
The remains of two British men kidnapped in Iraq two years ago are "highly likely" to be those of the security guards Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst .

The fate of three other hostages seized at the same time – Peter Moore and two men known only as Alan and Alec – is still unknown.

“It is with deep regret that we have today informed the families of the hostages that, based on very strong indications, the two bodies recovered are highly likely to be those of Jason Creswell, originally from Glasgow, and Jason Swindlehurst, originally from Skelmersdale,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

“We continue to do everything we can towards the safe release of the other hostages.”

The kidnappers said last year that one of the Jasons had committed suicide – a claim that was never verified. The announcement that both Jasons were dead came as a surprise to officials and a devastating blow for the families.

It is unclear how the two men, security guards for GardaWorld, a Canadian company, died. Sources said that their bodies were decomposed, indicating that they could have been dead for several months.

This is a particularly cruel blow, as hopes were raised for the release of the group over the past two weeks when the US freed Laith al-Khazali, one of the Shiite insurgents who ambushed and murdered 5 American soldiers at Karbala in January 2007. His release, along with 4 other prisoners, was one of the demands of the Iranian-backed militia which carried out the May 2007 abduction of computer consultant Peter Moore and his four bodyguards.

Our deepest condolences to the families of Mr. Creswell and Mr. Swindlehurst, and our fervent prayers for the protection and rescue of the remaining hostages.

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