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Iraqi militants free two hostages

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Published: Dec 10, 2004
Modified: Dec 10, 2004 2:12 PM

Iraqi militants free two hostages


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Iraqi militants have released a Sri Lankan truck driver and his Bangladeshi colleague after holding them hostage for 43 days, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Dinesh Dharmendra Rajaratnam, 37, of Sri Lanka, and Abul Kashem, 42, of Bangladesh, who both worked for a Kuwaiti transport company, are in the process of being returned to their home countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo said in a statement on its Web site.

A group calling itself the Islamic Army abducted them Oct. 28 as they entered an undisclosed American base.

Rajaratnam was with the Sri Lankan ambassador, the ministry said. Kashem was under the care of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Dhaka's Daily Star newspaper reported in Bangladesh, citing unidentified diplomatic sources.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry did not say when Rajaratnam was released, but the Daily Star said Kashem was freed Thursday.

In Kashem's home district of Feni, the local member of parliament visited his family Friday with the news of his release, the United News of Bangladesh reported.

"Kashem is now under the custody of the Iraqi government," Musharraf Hossain told Kashem's wife and daughter. "His return home is a matter of time now."

On hearing the good news, Kashem's relatives and neighbors offered special prayers for his safe return, the agency said.

There are now at least seven foreign hostages held in Iraq, including two French journalists and an American worker for a Saudi company. More than 170 foreigners have been seized; over 30 were later slain, including at least three whose kidnappings were claimed by the Islamic Army in Iraq.

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Filipino hostage released in iraq after pullout { July 20 2004 }
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French journalist freed in iraq after 5 months
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Iraqi militants free two hostages
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