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Kidnappers free women relatives of Iraqi PM - TV
Updated: 2004-11-15 10:31

An Islamist group has freed two women relatives of Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi but is still holding his male cousin hostage, Arab satellite televisions said on Sunday.

"Sources said the kidnappers released the two women in (the eastern city of) Baquba," Al Jazeera said without giving further details. Dubai-based Al Arabiya television also reported that the women had been released but did not elaborate.

Iraqi officials were not immediately available to confirm the report.

A previously unknown Islamist group seized the prime minister's 75-year-old first cousin Ghazi Allawi along with Ghazi's wife and their daughter-in-law in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The group threatened to kill them in 48 hours unless Iraq's interim government called off the U.S.-led assault on the rebel-held city of Falluja and freed prisoners.

The government said it would not be influenced by the abductions, which took place a day after Allawi ordered a full-scale assault on Falluja, which his government and the U.S. military say had become a haven for foreign Islamist fighters.

On Thursday, relatives of one of the kidnapped women, identified as Wasnaa Mohammed Jaafar Husseini, begged her captors to release her saying she was nine months pregnant.

Scores of Iraqis and foreigners have been seized by Islamic militant groups and criminal gangs. Some have been freed while others have been killed, several by beheading.

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