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Freed Iraq hostage Kember thanks military rescuers

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Mar 25 (Reuters) Freed Christian peace campaigner Norman Kember today thanked the soldiers who rescued him from kidnappers in Iraq, in a statement made shortly after flying into London.

''I do not believe that a lasting peace is achieved by armed force, but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my rescue,'' he said.

British Army chief General Michael Jackson had criticised Kember for apparently failing to thank the soldiers who rescued him and his colleagues on Thursday.

Sitting next to his wife Pat in a hospitality lounge at Heathrow Airport, Kember, 74, declined to talk about his experience during four months of captivity in Iraq.

He insisted the world should spare a thought for the ordinary people of Iraq who have to live through the daily violence plaguing the country.

''There is a real sense in which you are interviewing the wrong person,'' he said.

''It is the ordinary people of Iraq that you should be talking to -- the people who have suffered so much over many years and still await the stable and just society that they deserve.'' Kember, reading in a strong voice from a handwritten statement, thanked those of many faiths who had appealed and prayed for his release and asked now to be left alone to reflect on his experiences.

Kember was rescued with two Candian colleagues on Thursday by special forces soldiers. Kember arrived in London on a scheduled British Airways flight from Kuwait, where he had been flown in a British military transport plane from Baghdad yesterday afternoon.

REUTERS KD RK1940

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