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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Annan condemns killing of hostages in Iraq, urges end to abductions

15 April 2004 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today strongly condemned the killing of hostages in Iraq, urging an end to the abduction of civilians and calling for the release of those already held in captivity.

A spokesperson for the Secretary-General said Mr. Annan was "deeply dismayed" by the gruesome killing of one of the Italian hostages last night as well as the murder of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad this morning.

"He strongly condemns these senseless crimes, and would like to express his condolences to the bereaved families and to the Italian and Iranian Governments," spokesperson Marie Okabe said at a press briefing in New York.

"The Secretary-General stresses that the taking of hostages violates international humanitarian law and human rights norms," she added. "He wishes to use this opportunity to reiterate his call for the release of all those abducted and to end all violations of international humanitarian law."

Earlier Thursday, when asked by reporters about the hostage situation in Iraq, the Secretary-General said he was relieved that some of them had been released and urged that no further hostages be taken.

"It is really not the right way to get things done, and I am really surprised that it has escalated to the point that that many people have been taken hostage, and I hope this will cease," he said.

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