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Police and Church Officials Doubt Radio Claim that Waite Dead

February 5, 1988

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A radio station said Friday that hostage Terry Waite was killed by his captors, but police and British officials said they didn’t believe the Anglican Church envoy was dead.

Voice of Lebanon, a Christian-controlled station in east Beirut, quoted unidentified ″highly reliable sources″ as saying that ″Waite has met the black fate at the hands of his captors.″

″The kidnappers gained the information they needed from Waite and then killed him sometime after his abduction,″ the radio said.

The station’s reports on foreign hostages have often turned out to be inaccurate. It is controlled by the right-wing Phalange Party.

The station quoted British Ambassador John Gray as saying there was nothing to substantiate the death report.

In London, Eve Keatley, a spokeswoman for Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, said: ″Conflicting reports come all the time from Lebanon, and there seems to be no evidence to support this one,″ Ms. Keatley said.

State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley in Washington said the United States has no evidence Waite was dead.

″We continue to believe that he’s alive,″ she said.

A police spokesman, who cannot be named under standing rules, said of the radio report: ″I doubt it very much. It is probably untrue.″

Waite is one of 22 foreigners, including eight Americans, held captive in Lebanon. He disappeared Jan. 20, 1987 while on a mission to negotiate the release of hostages.

The hostage held longest is Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.

In addition, two Scandinavians were kidnapped Friday as they drove outside the coastal city of Sidon.

They were identified as Jan Stening, 44, of Sweden and William Jorgensen, 58, of Norway, both employees of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

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