2 Brit hostage bodies identified

LONDON: The bodies of two British hostages handed over in Iraq have been identified.

The families have been told and are being given time to inform relatives.

The identified remains, which are still in Baghdad, belong to two of the four security guards protecting IT worker Peter Moore, the Foreign Office said. Moore, from Lincoln, and his guards were captured by armed militants at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad in 2007. The Foreign Office said it had “grave concerns” over the safety of the three other men still thought to be held by the kidnappers,

“This is incredibly tough for the families because there really was so much optimism. “This was a blow out of nowhere,” said a British official.

It’s possible the handover of the bodies could be seen as a trade-off for the release of a militant, Laith al-Khazali, on 6 June.

His freedom had been a stipulation for the hostages being freed.

The remains of the two dead men were handed over to Iraqi authorities on Friday night, and were then passed on to the British Embassy in Iraq.

Little is known about the identities of the men because of a media blackout during a large period of their captivity. The blackout originally came on the instruction of the hostage-takers who said they did not want publicity.

Some people would question the British government’s policy of not making substantive concessions to kidnappers for fear it encouraged further kidnapping. “There are really two issues here. One is ‘should Britain do deals’? the other is ‘should this campaign have been louder rather than softly, softly’? “Of course it’s not over yet and the aim and focus now for those involved in this is to get the three others out, but I think questions are going to be asked about whether the right approach has been taken.” Moore had been working for American management consultancy Bearingpoint when he was kidnapped, while the other men were contractors employed to guard him. The names of the four security guards are understood to be Jason, Alan, Jason and Alec. Little else is known about them, other than that the guard Alan is from Dumbarton in Scotland and at least one other is from South Wales.