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News Update
20-01-05, 19:00
New appeal for China hostages
By Louisa Lim
BBC News, Beijing


The families of eight Chinese labourers held hostage by militants in Iraq have been pleading for their release.
The insurgent group holding the men has threatened to kill them if China failed to clarify its position on Iraq.

But a Muslim group acting as an intermediary says it is confident it can secure the men's release.

Weeping relatives of the eight have been shown on the front pages of all the Chinese papers. "I didn't want my son to go," one mother sobbed.

"But there's no work for him here," she said.

The men are being held by an insurgent group which accuses them of building American facilities in Iraq, something the Chinese government denies.


Chinese citizens are no longer considered the safest foreigners overseas
Beijing's Qingnian Bao


The Islamic Scholars Association, which helped release seven Chinese citizens kidnapped in Iraq last year, is acting as a mediator.

Its chairman said he was optimistic the men would soon be set free.

It has now emerged that both groups of hostages came from southern Fujian province and state media speculated they had paid human traffickers for their passage to Iraq.

There has been shock among many Chinese, who believe Beijing's opposition to the US-led invasion should guarantee their national safety in Iraq.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4190399.stm

Published: 2005/01/20 07:31:39 GMT

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