Kidnappers holding five British hostages in Iraq have released a video statement claiming that one of the men has committed suicide. The statement says the man, named only as Jason, died on May 25th, four days before the first anniversary of the men’s abduction in Baghdad. The claim came in a video given to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper in Baghdad. Another hostage, identified as Alan, urged Britain to do more to win their freedom.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is taking the suicide claim seriously. Visiting British troops in Basra, Brown said it was distressing news, and that he had discussed the hostages with his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Brown gave his clearest hint yet that most British soldiers will leave Iraq next year, although he declined to give specific dates. A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister confirmed that the final withdrawal could come “within a year.”