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No Word on Fate of 4 Western Hostages in Iraq


There has been no information on the fate of four Western hostages held in Iraq, on the day their kidnappers have said they will kill them.

The kidnappers extended a Thursday deadline until Saturday, saying the peace activists would be executed unless all Iraqi prisoners are released from Iraqi and U.S.-run jails.

Family members of four western hostages held in Iraq made desperate pleas for their release as the deadline for the killing drew closer Saturday. Some of the relatives of the American, Briton, and two Canadians made public appeals Friday, noting the hostages' humanitarian work and opposition to the U.S- led war in Iraq.

Several Sunni Arab clerics also pleaded for the lives of the hostages during Friday prayer services. Clerics also urged full participation in next week's parliamentary elections, saying the vote was an important opportunity for Sunnis to get involved in the political process.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials say another kidnap victim was found dead today north of Tikrit. The Egyptian contractor, Ibrahim Sayed Hilali, was abducted Friday in Tikrit.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military says four soldiers were killed today in and around Baghdad. Another soldier was killed Friday, when a suicide car bomber attacked a unit in western Baghdad. That attack also wounded 11 other soldiers and one Iraqi civilian.

The latest violence comes less than a week before Iraqis go to the polls to elect a new permanent parliament.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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