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New plea to release Auckland student

Published: 4:42PM Sunday January 01, 2006 Source: RNZ

The families of an Auckland student and three other men taken hostage in Iraq more than a month ago have issued a fresh appeal to their kidnappers to release  them.

Harmeet Sooden and his colleagues were snatched by militants on November 26 but no word has been heard of the men, even though the deadline for their execution passed three weeks ago.

The latest appeal for their safe return was made on Iraqi radio on Boxing Day and has also been placed on the British Foreign Office website.

The families have said that many religious figures from the Arab and Muslim world have recognised the good work the hostages were doing in Iraq and had previously done in Palestine.

The appeal included an email address and a mobile phone number and asked anyone who knew of the men's whereabouts to get in contact.

Sooden, a 32-year-old Canadian citizen and a permanent resident of New Zealand, was kidnapped with American Tom Fox, 54; Briton Norman Kember, 74 and Canadian James Loney, 41.

They are all members of the humanitarian agency, Christian Peacemaker Teams.