Iraq: Seven hostages were released

After six weeks of uncertainty and anxiety, three Indians held hostage along with four others in Iraq by a militant group were freed today and were on their way to Kuwait.

"All the three are with the Indian embassy in Baghdad now. They are hale and hearty," a jubilant Indian Ambassador to Iraq, B B Tyagi, told PTI over phone.

"They will travel to Kuwait sometime later today on their way home," said Tyagi, who had been involved along with the Indian ambassador to Oman, Talmez Ahmed, in the discussions to get the hostages released. Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed told reporters in New Delhi that the hostages were on their way to Kuwait and efforts would be made to bring them back to India as early as possible, says the Hindu.

According to the Xinhua, Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL) revealed Wednesday that the release of its seven hostages held by an armed group in Iraq came at the price of paying ransom of half a million US dollars, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

KGL Chairman Saeed Dashti made the remarks at the Kuwait International Airport while waiting for the arrival of the seven released hostages along with Indian, Egyptian and Kenyan ambassadors.

Dashti noted that the last payment for the release of the kidnapped was half a million US dollars, also attributing the successful conclusion of the crisis to the intervention of clerics and well-meaning interlocutors in Iraq on behalf of KGL.

Dashti said his firm will not wholly discontinue its business in Iraq, but will rely on some home-based Iraqi firms to distribute KGL products and services.

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