PM calls for hostage release

Prime minister Gordon Brown has called for the release of five British hostages who have been held by their abductors in Iraq for six months.

The appeal comes after the release of a tape by the kidnappers threatening to kill the group of four guards and a computer expert if UK troops are not withdrawn from Iraq

Mr Brown denounced the practice of holding men captive to achieve political aims and said threats would not change the country’s policy on Iraq.

He said: “The taking of hostages is completely unjustified, wholly unacceptable and we are making it clear they will not change our policy in any way.

“I want the hostage takers to accept their responsibility, to understand the consequences of what they are doing, to make possible the immediate release of the hostages, to allow them to come home at the earliest opportunity.”

The prime minister praised the Iraqi government for its cooperation in efforts to help free the five kidnapped UK citizens. He also acknowledged the “bravery and resilience” of the families of the victims and said the government would do everything it could to help free those captured.

The group of five was kidnapped by armed gunmen while working at the country’s finance ministry.