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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 16:43 GMT
Ex-archbishop makes hostage plea
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey
Lord Carey was chosen by relatives as a non-government figure

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has appealed for the release of five British hostages held in Iraq.

The kidnappers have set a deadline of Friday for the UK to start pulling its troops out of Iraq or they will begin executing the captives.

In a personal message Lord Carey urged the safe return of the men, before appealing on behalf of their families.

The four guards and a computer expert were seized from Baghdad's finance ministry by gunmen on 29 May.

Their captors were dressed as police officers, and the hostages are being held by a militia group called the Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq.

'Power to return'

Lord Carey said: "I would like to add my own personal appeal at this holy time of Eid and Christmas, this is a peaceful time which is important for Muslims and Christians alike, that we may be able to see the safe return home of these men as soon as possible."

We remain serious and committed to exploring all the options open to us
Families' statement

The families' statement added: "We love you and miss you very much and want you to know that you are never out of our thoughts.

"We appeal to those holding you, please allow our loved ones to hear this message and let them know how much we love them.

"We know that you have the power to return them to us and we ask you to do so.

"We remain serious and committed to exploring all the options open to us to bring about their safe return."

Lord Carey was chosen by the hostages' families to read the message as he is not a government figure and has some influence in Muslim circles in the Middle East.

The families are growing increasingly worried that indirect contacts with the kidnappers have so far failed to secure the men's release.

Iraq hostage families make appeal
06 Sep 07 |  Middle East
Five Britons abducted in Baghdad
29 May 07 |  Middle East

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