Thursday, April 05, 2007

British hostages back home

The 15 naval personnel held in Iran since March 23rd, have arrived back on British soil. Sky News, BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera English all covered the event Live with France 24 dipping in occasionally.

The British Airways flight from Tehran touched down at Heathrow at 12:03 BST [11:03 GMT] and within 45 minutes they had disembarked and boarded two RAF Sea King helicopters which arrived ahead of their arrival. The Prime Minister spoke to express his being “glad” at their return whilst expressing his sadness at the news that 4 British troops had been killed near Basra in southern Iraq by what he called a “terrorist act”. He reiterated that there had been “no deal” with Iran to secure the release of the 14 men and one woman. As he spoke the plane carrying the released sailors touched down with cameras from all around the world focused on the aircraft. The released sailors briefly stopped for a photo opportunity before climbing aboard the helicopters all the time surrounded by armed police and security personnel. The helicopters left Heathrow followed for a time by news helicopters from Sky News and the BBC. Just over an hour later they touched down at Royal Marine Base, Chivenor in Devon, a military base 250 km from London, which would pose greater privacy for the sailors as they were reunited with their families. Throughout the event all the networks discussed what the diplomacy behind the scenes may have been. Many also discussed some comments coming from US officials as well as the American press which had described the British response as not being “bullish” enough. The happy news of their return is however tempered by the deaths of 4 British troops and their Kuwaiti interpreter in southern Iraq. It brings to 6 the number of British service personnel killed in Iraq this week [BBC / Sky News]

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