Iraqi PM's Female Family Let Go

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Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's (search) office confirmed Monday that two of his female relatives who were kidnapped last week have been released.

Allawi's cousin, Ghazi Allawi, 75, his cousin's wife and his cousin's pregnant daughter-in-law were abducted at gunpoint last Tuesday in western Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood.

"Yes, yes, the two women were released yesterday," said an Allawi spokesman who declined to be named.

There was no word on Ghazi Allawi or any other details.

A militant group, Ansar al-Jihad (search), had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and threatened to behead Allawi's relatives in 48 hours unless female and male detainees in Iraq were released, and the siege on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah halted.

On Sunday, Al-Jazeera (search) Television, which is based in Qatar, quoted unidentified sources as saying the two women were freed in Baqouba, central Iraq.

Allawi had said on Saturday that he was deeply concerned about the fate of his three relatives, but their abduction would not deter him from purging the country of militants.

Hundreds of Iraqis have been kidnapped in recent months, mainly by groups demanding ransom payments.

More than 170 foreigners have been kidnapped by insurgents in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's regime fell in April 2003. More than 30 foreign hostages have been killed. Many of the kidnappers pursue political motives such as the withdrawal of foreign companies and troops from Iraq.