Two UK hostages believed killed

LONDON: Two more hostages from a group of Britons kidnapped in Baghdad two years

ago are “very likely” dead, leaving only one whose fate remains unclear, reports said today.

The Foreign Office

told the families of Alan McMenemy and Alec MacLachlan, among five Britons kidnapped in May 2007, that they believed they were killed last week, the BBC and Sky News television reported.

The bodies of two other guards, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, and Jason Creswell, 39, were handed over to the British embassy in Baghdad last month. The fate of the other hostage, British computer consultant Peter Moore, is unknown.

Moore and the four security guards were kidnapped in the Iraqi finance ministry, in an audacious operation by around 40 heavily-armed militants posing as security personnel.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman could not confirm the latest reports. “We don’t discuss the operational details of individual cases. We remain extremely concerned for the safety of the hostages and we continue to work intensively for their release,” she said.

The families of the five hostages said they were “deeply upset and troubled” at the new reports. “We are all deeply upset and troubled to hear the reports that Alec and Alan have died at the hands of their captors, as well as Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell. “This is a terrible ordeal for us all. We ask those holding our men for compassion when so many are working hard for reconciliation in Iraq. We are praying for safe return of our men.”