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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Lebanese Hostage Is Released

June 20, 2004|From Associated Press

BEIRUT — Kidnappers on Saturday released the last of five Lebanese workers taken captive in Iraq, a Foreign Ministry official said.

George Frendo, a construction worker, was taken hostage June 13.

"He is in good health," said Butros Asaker, who heads the political department in the Lebanese Foreign Ministry.

Asaker would not say whether a ransom had been paid for Frendo, who was released in Baghdad.

"The important thing is that he is free," he said.

Another Lebanese hostage, Jamil Deeb, was freed late Thursday. He and Frendo were employees of the Sweidan construction company.

It was not clear where the company was based. Lebanese officials did not say whether a ransom had been paid for Deeb.

On Wednesday, kidnappers released Habib Samour, who was abducted upon his arrival in Baghdad on May 17.

A fourth Lebanese hostage, Hussein Alyan, was shot dead and his body dumped beside a road. A fifth, Roger Haddad, was released after his family paid a ransom.

In recent months, hundreds of Lebanese, mainly construction workers and industrialists, have gone to Iraq to explore opportunities in the massive postwar reconstruction effort.

Militants have kidnapped many foreigners in Iraq in recent months. Although many have been from nations participating in the U.S.-led coalition, the victims also have included Turks, Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Palestinians.

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