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Dead British Iraq Hostages Had Been Shot, BBC Says

LONDON (Reuters) -- Two British former hostages whose bodies were returned home from Iraq last week had been shot dead, the BBC has reported.

Citing detail of a coroner's report into the deaths of Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst, whose bodies were handed over by their captors in Iraq 11 days ago, the BBC said they had died from gunshot wounds.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office declined to confirm or deny the report, saying only, "This is an ongoing matter for the coroner."

The two dead men had been among five Britons -- computer instructor Peter Moore and four of his bodyguards -- seized in May 2007 by an armed Shi'ite militant group from inside a Finance Ministry building in a raid in the Iraqi capital.

Until now, no details of where or how they died had been made public. Unconfirmed media reports last year had said one of the hostages had killed himself.

An Iraqi lawmaker said last week that the two men apparently died a year ago and that their bodies were just skeletons when they were handed to British officials in Baghdad on June 19.