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Hostages may be freed by weekend
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 5
The 15-day-long Iraq hostage crisis may be resolved by this weekend and the three Indians may well be back home if the captors stick to their word and do not change their stand.

The Tribune understands a deal has been, more or less, clinched with the captors by the hostages’ employers and the situation was likely to become clearer by tomorrow.

Top government sources said the negotiations were progressing well and a positive outcome was expected.

Asked if any ransom amount was being paid to the captors, and if so, whether the amount was being paid by the Government of India or the hostages’ employer company M/s KGL, the sources said the government was not paying any money to the captors.

The talks between the captors’ negotiator Sheikh Hashim al-Dulaimi and KGL’s non-Iraqi employee-representative reopened in Baghdad today and were believed to be poised at “an extremely delicate stage”.

The government today maintained a studied silence on the Iraq hostage crisis as Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs E Ahamed did not make any statement. Normally, ever since the crisis erupted on July 21, Mr Ahamed has been issuing a statement on a daily basis, sometimes even twice a day.

Sources pointed out that the fact that for past four days or so the captors, “Islamic Secret Army: Holders of Black Banners”, had not announced any deadline was being interpreted here as a positive sign.
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