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London Urges Release of British Hostages in Iraq


On the second anniversary of the abduction of five Britons in Baghdad, their families remain hopeful they will be released. The British government has renewed its call for the men to be set free.

Dealing with two years of uncertainty has been incredibly stressful for the loved ones of the five Britons abducted in the Finance Ministry building by a group calling itself the Islamic Shiite Resistance in Iraq.

Pauline Sweeney is the stepmother of computer consultant Peter Moore who was taken at gunpoint along with his four British bodyguards.

Interviewed on the BBC, Mrs. Sweeney said the latest hostage video released in March has given her hope.

"He looked a lot, lot healthier, a lot better than the first video which was very distressing. All the way through the video he spoke in the plural which all the videos have been in the singular in the past which made us think that probably they are all together now, which is wonderful as far as I am concerned because they will all be there bullying each other along," she said.

A number of the hostages have children. Caroline is the sister-in-law of one of the men. She says not seeing the kids grow up is one of the toughest parts of the separation the families are enduring.

"I know that the biggest thing for him will be being away from his family. What I feel is that he has spent two years and he has missed two years of his children's lives," she said.

Ross is the brother of another hostage. His message to the captors is simple.

"Just secure their safe release, unconditional release. Let them come back home to their families," he pleaded.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband says the Iraq of today is very different to the one of two years ago. On the anniversary, he maintains Britain is totally committed to securing the release of the men.

British combat forces will be gone from the country by the end of July and some observers say a changing climate in Iraq may make a release now more likely than in the past. But a fresh wave of bombings may have pushed that optimistic assessment back a bit.

As for David Miliband, he says hostage-taking has no place in Iraq's future and he calls for those holding the men to release them immediately.

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