Mainland hostages leave Iraq

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:00am

The seven workers from Fujian who were taken hostage in Iraq last Sunday and released 36 hours later are on their way back to China.

Luo Xingwu, the Chinese ambassador to Jordan, confirmed late last night that the men had arrived in Amman by plane from Baghdad.

He would not say if they were to fly back to the mainland today but said the embassy was working hard to ensure their safe return as soon as possible.

Another embassy official, surnamed Dong, said the men had not left the airport since their arrival.

Ms Dong also said the embassy had issued new temporary travel documents for the men in Amman to facilitate their journey.

Chen Xianzhong, a Baghdad-based Chinese businessman who housed the men after their release, said the men had flown out of Baghdad yesterday morning.

He said their return to China had been delayed by the loss of their passports and injuries sustained by Chen Xiaojin, 49, and Li Guiwu, 23.

Mr Chen said Chen Xiaojin might still need a skin graft after undergoing three minor operations in Baghdad.