30/07/2004

Annan condemns murder of Pakistani hostages in Iraq

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has today reiterated his condemnation of all hostage-takings and acts of violence against innocent civilians following the killing of two Pakistanis in Iraq yesterday.

The Secretary-General said he was "dismayed and saddened" to learn of the brutal killing of the two contractors, who had been held hostage for several days. He conveyed his deepest sympathy and condolences to the government of Pakistan and to the families of the victims.

“Such acts are utterly unacceptable and are aimed at undermining Iraq’s political and economic reconstruction,” Mr Annan said.

Iraqi militants have threatened to kill seven hostages whom they seized 10 days ago. The three Indians, three Kenyans and one Egyptian were working as truckers for a Kuwaiti company when they were kidnapped.

Militants had said they would kill one of the hostages at 7pm local time (3pm GMT) today if the company did not withdraw from Iraq. However, the deadline has been extended and negotiations to release the seven men are continuing.

(gmcg)

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