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Indian among three hostages rescued in Iraq

Their US colleague Tom Fox, seized with them on November 26, was slain two weeks ago.
None | By Press Trust of India, Baghdad
PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2006 06:06 PM IST

US and British forces on Thursday rescued three Western hostages, including one of Indian orgin, held captive in Iraq for almost four months.

Three aid workers from the Christian Peacemaker Teams -- Canadians Harmeet Sooden, 32, who is of Indian origin, and Jim Loney, 41, and Briton Norman Kember, 74 -- were rescued in western Baghdad, US Colonel John Snow said.

Their US colleague Tom Fox, seized with them on November 26, was slain two weeks ago and his body found dumped in the city.

"The three hostages Norman Kember, a British hostage, (and) two Canadian hostages, have been released as a result of a multi-national force operation which took place earlier today," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in London.

"British forces were involved in this operation. It follows weeks and weeks of very careful work by our military and coalition personnel in Iraq and many civilians as well," Straw added.

"I am delighted we now have a happy ending to this ordeal."

Their abduction was claimed by a group calling itself the Brigades of the Swords of Righteousness which threatened to kill them unless all Iraqi prisoners were released.

Straw said the two Canadians needed hospital treatment.

Kember was in a "reasonable condition" and recovering in Baghdad's top-security Green zone where the British and US embassies and the Iraqi government are based.

The three freed hostages last appeared in a video broadcast on pan-Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera on March 7 in which they issued a new appeal for their governments to work for their release.

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