BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) -- Iraqi insurgents Thursday released three Japanese hostages in apparent response to pleas by Sunni Muslim clerics, reports said.
The three ex-captives, who were held for a whole week, appeared in good health and relieved when they were received by members of the Sunni Muslim Ulemas's Committee in Baghdad.
The abductors, calling themselves Saraya al-Mujahedin, had vowed to kill the hostages if the Japanese forces did not withdraw from Iraq.
A footage broadcast on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television, monitored in Beirut, showed the Japanese eating and drinking juice as they chatted with the Sunni clerics.
The committee's spokesman Metni Hareth al-Fari said the clerics did not undertake any mediation with the kidnappers "who obviously responded to our pleas to release the hostages."
He said the kidnappers dropped the captives at the entrance of the committee's headquarters in Baghdad where "we picked them up then contacted their embassy."
Several foreign hostages, including Americans and Italians, are still held in Iraq.