An Islamist group in Iraq said it had killed two female Italian hostages in a statement posted on an internet site, but the women's employers in Italy said last night they had not given up hope.
Italian Government sources urged "the utmost caution" and said there was nothing to confirm the statement by a group calling itself the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/08/21/34887.html' target=_blank>Jihad Organisation, which said it had killed the women because Italy had not obeyed its call to withdraw its forces from Iraq.
Aid organisation &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2003/03/15/44472.html' target=_blank>Bridge to Baghdad, which employed the two women, said on its website that the report - posted on a site not often used by Iraqi militant groups - was "not very credible".
"We are hoping. It will take time to check," it said in a statement on its website yesterday. "Until we have certainty, we will not have peace.", reports New Zealand Herald.