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Captors say British hostage in Iraq committed suicide

July 20, 2008|From the Associated Press

LONDON — A Shiite militia that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of five Britons in Iraq more than a year ago said one of its hostages has committed suicide, a British newspaper reported.

The Sunday Times of London published what it said was a statement in a video it obtained from the group through an intermediary in Iraq.

The video, available on the Times’ website late Saturday night, shows an Arabic-language statement claiming that one of the hostages, identified only as Jason, killed himself on May 25.

The newspaper said the statement blamed the British government for ignoring statements that the kidnappers and the captives had made.

In the past, the militia had demanded that all British forces be withdrawn from Iraq and that Iraqis held by U.S.-led forces be freed.

The statement was signed the Shiite Islamic Resistance in Iraq, according to the newspaper.

The British government said Saturday night that it could not confirm the veracity of the latest video or verify its claims.

But British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had just left Iraq after meeting with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Saturday, called the newspaper report a "very distressing development" and said that he was taking it seriously.

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