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Govt verifying status of hostages
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | August 01, 2004 20:01 IST
Last Updated: August 01, 2004 20:28 IST
There are reports that the three Indians abducted in Iraq have been released but the government is yet to confirm them.
Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed told mediapersons in Delhi that the government is making efforts to find out if these reports, which have been put out by AFP and AP wire services, are correct.
"I wish to convey that as of now we have no confirmation of their release. Neither our embassy in Baghdad nor our embassy in Kuwait have been able to confirm this," he said.
He appealed to mediapersons, particularly television channels, to be patient and not to broadcast reports that the seven persons held hostage in Iraq have been released.
"We have no confirmation about the release of the hostages," he said in a written statement while reacting to reports put out by AFP and AP that all the seven hostages, including three Indians - Tilak Raj, Antaryami and Sukhdev Singh, have been released. The reports were based on the statement of a Kenyan minister.
"It is strange that you choose to believe the Kenyan foreign minister rather than the Crisis Management Group whose members have been available to mediapersons round the clock," the minister said.
Sheikh Hisham Al Dulaimi, a negotiator who has been in touch with the captors, has denied the hostages have been released.
The families of the hostages reportedly began celebrations soon after hearing the reports about the release became public.
However, the government has advised restraint.