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5 Sudanese Hostages in Iraq Freed

January 01, 2006|From Reuters

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Al Qaeda militants in Iraq released five Sudanese Embassy staff members Saturday, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said, after Khartoum announced that it was shutting its Baghdad mission in an effort to secure their release.

The militants had threatened to kill the hostages, including a diplomat, unless Sudan agreed to cut all ties with Iraq within 48 hours.

Sudan's state minister for foreign affairs, Samani Wasila, said, "Yes, they released them. They are in the [Baghdad] embassy now. They are all fine."

Militants in Iraq have targeted the embassies of Muslim countries to pressure them to not recognize Iraq's U.S.-backed government. The Egyptian mission chief in Baghdad, two Algerian envoys and two Moroccan Embassy staff members were killed last year.

Insurgents also have killed several Western and Asian hostages and hundreds of kidnapped Iraqis accused of cooperating with U.S.-led troops.

Militants have freed few hostages, but the release of the Sudanese was not the first time they have responded to concessions by a foreign government. In 2004, a Philippine truck driver was freed after Manila withdrew a small contingent of troops.

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