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British Embassy gets new video of Iraq hostage

THE British Embassy in Iraq said yesterday that it has received a new video showing one of five British hostages seized by gunmen from Iraq's Finance Ministry nearly two years ago.

The kidnappers have demanded that the United States military release the founder of a Shiite militia group blamed for the brazen abductions, while the British have asked that he remain in custody as long as the hostages are not freed, according to one official familiar with the case.

The official declined to be identified because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

The five Britons ?? a management consultant named Peter Moore and four of his security guards ?? were seized by heavily armed men in police uniforms in May 2007 from the Finance Ministry. They were driven away toward Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City.

The British Embassy confirmed it had received a tape of one of the British hostages but refused to identify him or provide details on how it received the video.

"This is clearly a significant development and we'll continue to work for the safe release of all the hostages," embassy spokesman Sean McColm said.

The BBC reported that the hostage in the video is Peter Moore and that he says the five are being treated well. The four other captives were security workers for the Montreal-based firm GardaWorld.

The new video was filmed eight days ago, according to its date stamp, the official said, adding that only one unidentified hostage was shown but the British believe all five are fine.

The kidnappers have demanded the release of Qais al-Khazali, a Shiite cleric who has been in US custody since March 2007 and negotiations are in progress, the official said.

He added that the British have asked the Americans not to release al-Khazali as long as the hostages continue to be held and negotiations were under way.

About 4,000 British soldiers remain in Iraq and are scheduled to leave by September, along with some 12,000 US forces, according to the withdrawal schedule recently announced by President Barack Obama.


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