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German hostages freed in Iraq, Foreign Ministry says

By Staff
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BERLIN, May 2 (Reuters) Germany's Foreign Ministry said today that two German hostages held in Iraq since January had been freed.

''I can confirm that the two German hostages are now in safe hands,'' a spokeswoman said.

The Foreign Ministry was confirming comments attributed to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reported by German television network n-tv that the hostages had been released.

Reinhard Silberberg, the Foreign Ministry's state secretary in charge of the hostage task force, will make an announcement in Berlin at 2245 hrs IST, the ministry said.

The two engineers from Leipzig, Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, were abducted on January 24 outside their workplace in the industrial town of Baiji, 180 km north of Baghdad.

Since their abduction, four videos of the hostages had been shown in which captors had made various demands.

In the last one broadcast in April, the group Ansar al-Tawhid Wa-Sunna demanded the release of all prisoners held by US-led forces in Iraq and warned the two would be killed if its call was ignored.

REUTERS SI RN2231

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