Eight hostages released in Iraq

Three Russians and five Ukrainians taken hostage in Baghdad yesterday have been released, a spokesman for Interenergoservis in Baghdad said.

The ministry of industry and energy has confirmed this information too.

The Russian foreign ministry, as well, confirmed these reports. Deputy official spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry Boris Malakhov said that the hostages had been released thanks to the all-out efforts of Moscow.

"As a result of the latest efforts of the Russian side, all the Interenergoservis experts taken hostage in the evening of April 12 have been set free," said the diplomat.

In his words, "the released people are now in their original accommodation in Baghdad."

"There are no victims. All the former hostages feel well," said Mr. Malakhov.

The Baghdad office of Interenergoservis has said that the extremists treated the hostages well. According to a spokesman for the company, the hostages were released after the extremists found out that they were Russian citizens. "The sides spoke through an interpreter," said sources in the company.

The hostage takers apologised and released the hostages. They were put in a taxi and sent home, said the source.

The fate of the Iraqi security guard taken hostage with them remains unknown.

"Now the people are in the Interenergoservis office in Baghdad and feel well. They did not even have time to get frightened. The people who took them [hostage] remain unidentified," said a source in the ministry of industry and energy.

Spokesman for the Minister of Industry and Energy Stanislav Naumov has said that the ministry was working out measures to prevent such situations in the future.

"A group set up in the ministry to probe into the reasons of the situation will make conclusions. We intend to hold consultations on this issue with all Russian companies represented in Iraq," said the spokesman for the ministry of industry and energy.

According to him, about 500 staffers of Russian companies are working in Iraq today.

Mr. Naumov confirmed that about an hour ago, all the eight experts of the Russian Interenergoservis company taken hostage yesterday were set free.

"The ministry is satisfied with the efforts of those who have helped free the hostages," said Mr. Naumov.

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