Families of two of the three remaining British hostages held in Iraq for two years are deeply troubled to hear the men are likely dead. The news was broken to them last week by British officials.
The loved ones of the British hostages are going through anguish and torment.
While Foreign Office officials will not confirm or deny the widespread media reports here that two Britons employed as private security guards in Iraq have died in captivity, various accounts point to the likelihood that Alan McMenemy and Alec MacLachlan are probably dead.
Given the sensitive nature of the situation, details are not being made public, but as Business Secretary Peter Mandelson says the outlook does not look good.
"I do not want to disclose publicly the information we are getting, but we are intensively engaged through a whole variety of different channels, but I do not disguise the fact that we are extremely concerned for the safety of the hostages," said Peter Mandelson. "And while we will continue to do everything we can, we cannot be sure what the future will hold, but we are doing our absolute level best."
The two men were in a group of five Britons kidnapped from the Finance Ministry building in Baghdad in May 2007 by around 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.
Their captors are from a shadowy Shi'ite group known as the Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq. The group has demanded the release of nine of its members held in prison.
Since their abduction, the British hostages have appeared occasionally in videos, but last month the bodies of two other security contractors in the group were released.
If this latest claim that the two remaining guards are also dead, that would leave only the plight of the man they were protecting unknown. He is 36-year-old Peter Moore, a computer instructor working for the U.S. management consultancy Bearingpoint in Iraq.