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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Families fear for Kenyan hostages
The family of 45-year-old Kenyan hostage Ibrahim Khamis, being held in Iraq, say they remain optimistic about his chances of being released.

Weeping relatives of Ibrahim Khamis
Ibrahim Khamis had asked his family to pray for him

Mr Khamis and two other Kenyans are among seven lorry drivers taken hostage by an Iraqi militant group calling itself The Holders of the Black Banners which is threatening to kill them.

His younger brother Yunis Khamis said that as Kenya was opposed to the US-led war on Iraq and did not have troops in the country he felt his brother would not beheaded.

"My brother is a good man, he is trying to make an honest living," he told the BBC.

The father of four left the coastal town of Mombasa in January to work for Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport after he was recruited through a local employment agency.

"He works as a truck driver taking aid from one area to another," he said.

Tearful

After hearing about Ibrahim's capture on the local 9 o'clock evening news, the concerned family immediately tried to contact him on his mobile phone, but there was no reply.

Their worst fears were realised when later that evening they confirmed his identify on pictures on an international television bulletin.

In a tearful interview, his wife Aisha Nyarimbo Mwandighi told the BBC's Abdulsamad Ali in Mombasa that the last contact with her husband had been a text message received from him last Friday.

He had told his eldest daughter that he was going on a trip and asked his family to pray for him, as the working environment was not good.

He said that lots of his colleagues had left, but he was not willing to leave because he wanted to provide for his family.

Samia Ahmed, wife of one of the other Kenyan captives Jalal Mohammed Awadhi, said her husband had told her on Tuesday that he was going to Iraq to deliver food and medicine, and that the trucks were usually escorted by US soldiers.

She and her two children were only able to confirm his capture from pictures in a Kenyan newspaper on Thursday morning, and she made a tearful appeal to the Kenyan government to help secure her husband's release as he had not gone to Iraq to fight, only to work, she said.

The Kenyan government has called on all its citizens to leave Iraq.





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