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Iraq Hostage-taking & killing must end immediately

Iraq: Hostage-taking and killing must end immediately

Amnesty International strongly condemns the beheading of two American hostages and appeals for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

"Kidnapping and then killing civilians are recognized international crimes involving the violation of people's most basic rights, and for which there can be no justification," said Amnesty International.

Two Americans, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley were kidnapped on 16 September and then killed separately over the last two days reportedly by the Tawhid and Jihad Group. The group has also threatened to kill in the next 24 hours British national Kenneth Bigley, kidnapped with the two Americans and who continues to be held, unless the Americans freed "all female" prisoners in Iraq. At least 16 other hostages, including two Italian women aid workers, continue to be held by different armed groups in Iraq.

Over the past six months, dozens of foreigners of different nationalities, mostly civilians including aid workers, journalists, truck drivers and private contractors have been abducted and taken hostage by various armed groups operating in Iraq to exert pressure on their governments or employers.

"Amnesty International condemns the use of civilians as bargaining chips in Iraq and urges armed groups to respect minimum standards of international humanitarian law, justice and humanity in their actions."

The organization also urges multinational troops and the Interim Government of Iraq to maintain security, law and order, while themselves adhering to international human rights and humanitarian legal norms, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

All AI documents on Iraq: http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacF4LabacVwbb0hPub/

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