Freed hostages want to stay

Moments after she was released by a militant group, volunteer worker Nahoko Takato, 34, said on the Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera that she wanted to continue her volunteer work in Iraq.
Another released hostage, photojournalist Soichiro Koriyama, 32, told his family he wished to stay to document the war-torn nation, relatives told reporters.
“I will continue (my work in Iraq),” Ms Takato said in an interview conducted after her release. “(The kidnappers) did things to me that I did not like. But I cannot hate the Iraqi people,” she said, wiping away tears.
In the same Al-Jazeera footage, released in Japan on Friday, Mr Koriyama was seen smiling, snapping photos of Ms Takato and the other released hostage Noriaki Imai, 18, and telling them: “My job is to shoot (pictures).”
Mr Koriyama’s mother Kimiko said he told her on the phone he wanted to remain in Iraq to continue taking pictures.
The three Japanese hostages were freed unharmed by Iraqi rebels shortly after an Italian was executed by another group of militants demanding US-led troops quit Iraq.

The Japanese were handed over to the Committee of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad which has been facilitating negotiations for their release.

Their captors threatened had to burn the two men and woman alive if Japan did not withdraw its troops, but Japan has rejected the demand despite two more Japanese civilians being reported missing near Baghdad.

The kidnappings had shocked the Japanese public, and sparked heated debate over the deployment of troops abroad for the first time since World War II.

The group holding four Italian hostages has sent a chilling video to Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera containing footage of the execution of 35-year-old Fabrizio Quattrocchi.

In a statement accompanying the video, the captors said they had killed Mr Quattrocchi following comments by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, that the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq was not negotiable.

The note said the remaining three would be executed one by one until that happened.

A defiant Mr Berlusconi says the kidnappers have cut short a life, but the country’s values and commitment to peace remain.

Meanwhile, an Australian aid worker was abducted and briefly held by militants in the Iraqi flashpoint town of Fallujah.

Donna Mulhearn, 34, of Maitland north of Sydney, was held for 20 hours by Sunni militiamen before being released unharmed this week, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday.

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