Page last updated at 01:55 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 02:55 UK

Iraq frees 'kidnap group' members

Clockwise from top left: Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore,  Alec Maclachlan, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell
The five hostages were taken in May 2007

Nearly 100 members of a Shia group suspected of links to the kidnap of five Britons in Iraq in May 2007 have been released from prison.

IT consultant Peter Moore, of Lincoln, was taken hostage from Iraq's Finance Ministry along with four bodyguards. At least three have since been killed.

The 97 released detainees were from the Leagues of Righteousness group.

A UK embassy spokesman told the BBC: "Anything that achieves a resolution of the hostage crisis is a good thing."

However, the British government insists it does not make deals with hostage-takers.

Body released

The body of security guard Alec MacLachlan, 30, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, was flown back to the UK earlier this month after being released by his kidnappers.

Those of his colleagues, Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, from Glasgow, had been handed over to Iraqi authorities in June.

Foreign Office officials believe the fourth security team member has also been killed. Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said he believes Mr Moore is still alive, although his condition is not known.

Hostage Peter Moore
Mr Moore has featured in two videos released by the kidnappers

A video in which Mr Moore said the hostages were being treated well was released to their families - though not the media - in March. He also featured in a video released in February last year.

The Britons were kidnapped in May 2007 by militants, understood to belong to an obscure group known as the Islamic Shia Resistance, who were dressed as policemen.

However, British officials in Baghdad believe the League of Righteousness - or Asaib al-Haq - may have orchestrated the capture.

A senior member of the group, Jassim al Saedi, said: "We have received 97 detainees, and next week we expect that to reach 200.

"The government has promised us they will release all our detainees by the end of November," he added.

Iraq has said it is not negotiating for the hostages' freedom and has denied any link with the release of militants. Authorities there have been releasing some detainees to foster national reconciliation after years of conflict.



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