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ICC note: Thousands of believers have been forced to flee their homes causing them to be more vunerable to attacks and kidnappings.

7/11/07 Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Four Chaldean Christians who were kidnapped a week ago in northern Iraq are free and well, according to AsiaNews sources on the spot.

Georges Isaak, his son Stuart, Shaqat Youssif and Martin Yacoub, were abducted on 4 July around 100km south of Kirkuk. The group had escaped from Baghdad to reach their village of origin in Daiabun, near Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan. In Dora, the neighbourhood of the capital where they used to live, they had received death threats that forced them to quit the city. While they were on the road, two cars full of terrorists stopped them near Emerli, the same city struck on 7 July by a violent attack that left 170 dead and 250 wounded.

The Christians – all related to each other – were released today thanks to the mediation of the Chaldean Church and the Sheiks of Kirkuk. Before leaving their village, they went to visit the local archbishop, Mgr Louis Sako, who “joyfully” said that all the ex-hostages “thanked God and those who prayed for their deliverance”.