LONDON (Reuters) -- Two Britons taken hostage in Iraq in 2007 have been confirmed dead and their bodies handed to UK officials in Baghdad, a British government source said on June 21.
The men, who have not been named, were among five Britons seized by an armed Shi'ite militant group from inside a Finance Ministry building in a raid in the Iraqi capital.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on June 20 the three other hostages were in "grave danger" after the Iraqi authorities passed the two men's remains to the British.
Forensic tests were needed to identify the men and their families have been told of their deaths.
No details about where, when or how they died have been made public. Unconfirmed media reports last year said one of the hostages had killed himself.
Only one of the hostages has been named: Peter Moore, a computer instructor. The other four kidnapped men were his bodyguards, working for Canadian security firm GardaWorld.
A company spokesman said he was aware of the reports of the confirmation of the two deaths but had no immediate comment.
The hostage-takers have released several videos of the men since their capture. One clip, aired by Dubai's Al Arabiya television, showed Moore calling for Britain to release nine Iraqis in return for their freedom.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on June 20 he was "saddened and dismayed" by the men's deaths, while the Foreign Office said it expected to make a statement later on June 21.
Britain sent about 45,000 soldiers to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple former President Saddam Hussein. It now has only about 500 troops in the country.
Former Beirut hostage Terry Waite said the only hope of freeing the remaining hostages lies with the Iraqis.
"It is something that is exceptionally difficult for any Western negotiator to do, almost impossible," he told BBC television.