The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Frantic family bid to save hostage

Liverpool, Sept. 24 (Reuters): Britain said today it had distributed 50,000 leaflets in Baghdad in an appeal for information about a man kidnapped eight days ago.

The move came at the request of Kenneth Bigley's Liverpool-based family who want to exhaust all means possible to save him from a group led by al Qaida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

'A family man called Ken Bigley is being held somewhere in your community,' said the leaflet in Arabic. 'Ken's mother, brothers, wife and child love him dearly. We are appealing for your help.'

An Iraqi company went round Baghdad yesterday handing out the leaflet, which had numbers for the British embassy and local police, officials at the foreign office in London said.

'We appeal to those who have taken him to please return him safely to us. Do you know where he is' the leaflet added.

The kidnappers are threatening to kill Bigley unless women prisoners are freed but have set no deadline.

Brother Paul Bigley said he believed the 62-year-old engineer had the strength to survive the ordeal after his two American fellow hostages were beheaded.

'I think he has the tenacity and resilience to last on this one,' he said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, to whom Bigley appealed in a videotape, has kept quiet for fear of inflaming the crisis. That stance has contrasted with French President Jacques Chirac's public appeals for the release of two French journalists being held hostage.

American Michael Berg, whose son Nick was beheaded in Iraq in May, said on BBC Radio the abductions and killings were 'horrible, immoral'. 'But I think it's equally immoral for your Prime Minister Mr Blair to stand there and say that there's nothing he can do about it... when in fact there is,' he added.

Musharraf troops

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf yesterday ruled out sending troops to help restore stability in Iraq, rebuffing pleas from the Iraqi interim government and the US.

'As far as Pakistan is concerned, our domestic environment is not conducive. It continues to be not conducive. We cannot be seen as an extension of the present forces there,' Musharraf said.

He said too much attention was being paid to whether he retained his army chief title while progress on other issues was being ignored.

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he had pressed Musharraf to contribute troops to the U.S.-led multinational force fighting an insurgency in his country.

The United States and the United Nations also encouraged Pakistan to contribute to a force to protect U.. staff in Iraq, diplomats said.

'He certainly can't control George Bush but he can withdraw British troops from Iraq ... The first step in stopping the killing is for the West to get out of the Middle East.'

With the kidnappers giving Blair one of the most painful moments of his seven-year premiership, speculation mounted that they may string the saga out into the Labour conference or even kill Bigley then for maximum political impact.

Bigley's relatives have accused the government of not doing enough to save him but now seem to have accepted London's line that it cannot negotiate for fear of encouraging future kidnaps.

More than 100 foreign hostages have been seized in Iraq since April. Most were released but about 30 have been killed.

' Additional reporting by Paul Majendie, Katherine Baldwin

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