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Church leaders say peacemakers role vital after Iraq hostages freed

Global church leaders in many parts of the world have expressed relief and joy at the release of three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) held hostage in Iraq.

Members of churches supporting the group said attention should also continue to be paid to the thousands of Iraqi detainees and captives, the British think tank and advocacy group Ekklesia on 23 March stated.

For his part the Rev. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the Geneva-based World Council of Church said in a letter to CPT director Douglas Pritchard, "We also pray that amid all the pain and anxiety of this case, those engaged in the violence in Iraq may remember and heed the many voices both Christian and Muslim * who made publicly clear that among the many people of faith concerned for peace there are also people called to be peacemakers." Kobia said, "Your team was answering one such calling in Iraq."

British hostage Norman Kember said he looked forward to going home after he and two Canadian colleagues were released from captivity in Iraq in a military raid by British and US forces.

"I’m looking forward to getting back to the UK," the 74-year-old peace worker, who was kidnapped last November, said in a brief statement released by the British embassy in Baghdad.

The three including Canadians, Harmeet Singh Sooden, aged 32, and James Loney, 41, were rescued with Kember from west Baghdad, but a fourth hostage and fellow member of the CPT mission to Iraq, US citizen Tom Fox, was found murdered earlier in March.

CPT was set up in 1984 by members of the Mennonite, Brethren and Quaker denominations as a faith-based group of peace activists committed to non-violent action in conflict zones. It has offices in Canada and the United States.

The four peace activists were abducted on 26 November; a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades later claimed responsibility for the kidnappings

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