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Three Abducted Peace Activists Rescued in Iraq

James Loney, Harmeet Singh Sooden and Norman Kember
From left to right, Canadian nationals James Loney, 41; Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and British national Norman Kember, 74. They were abducted in November 2005 in Iraq. (AFP/Getty Images)

"We are convinced the reason they've been alive so long is because of their commitment to bring peace and justice to Iraq," he said.

All four of the men were "motivated by a passion for justice and peace, to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation racked by armed conflict."

The men had appeared in three videos released by their captors. The last, which aired March 7 on al-Jazeera television, did not show Fox, which raised an alarm about his well-being. Two days later his body was found, heightening concern for the fate of the other three.

"We've certainly gone through a roller coaster of emotions these four months," Pritchard said.

Loney's brother Ed said the family had talked to him. "We're elated. We're really happy that this was resolved peacefully," he told CBC radio in Canada, according to the Reuters news agency. "He's lost quite a bit of weight. . . . My mom talked to him first, and she said he sounded fantastic. He was alert and was asking how we were doing. He said he was kind of sorry about the whole situation."

Straw said he was "delighted that now we have a happy ending to this terrible ordeal."

"There were four hostages captured originally -- including one, an American, Mr. Fox -- and it's a matter of great sorrow to everybody that he was killed," Straw said.

A Western official in Baghdad said in December that 425 foreigners had been kidnapped in Iraq since March 2003 and that 18 percent had been killed. Of 40 Americans kidnapped, 10 had been killed, the official said. At the time, the fate of Fox was unknown.

Jill Carroll, a freelance writer for the Christian Science Monitor who was abducted Jan. 7 in Baghdad, is still missing. She was last seen in a video broadcast Feb. 9 by the private Kuwaiti television station al-Rai.

Meanwhile, 26 people, including 15 policemen, were killed and 32 people were wounded when a powerful car bomb exploded about noon Thursday near the headquarters of the Baghdad police department's major crime unit in the central part of the capital, police said.

Earlier, a roadside bomb exploded at a police checkpoint near the unit's former headquarters in western Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding five people.

Another car bomb was detonated by remote control near a Shiite mosque in western Baghdad, killing two people and injuring six, according to Lt. Col. Muhammed Abdulkadhum of the Baghdad police. Hospital records listed six dead and 31 wounded in the incident.

A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol in south-central Baghdad killed three policemen and wounded seven people, and a car bomb targeting a police patrol in central Baghdad killed four policemen and a civilian and wounded eight people, police said.

In all, 23 police officers were killed in the Baghdad attacks. At least seven people were killed in violence elsewhere in Iraq on Thursday, news services reported.

Correspondent Kevin Sullivan in London and special correspondents Naseer Nouri and Saad al-Izzi contributed to this report.


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