(CP) - Two former Canadian hostages could be heading home as early as Saturday after marking their second day of freedom Friday with a maple-leaf-decorated cake to mark one of their birthdays, an offical with the Christian Peacemaker Teams said.
"They said they have tentative plans for leaving tomorrow (Saturday)," Anita David told The Canadian Press from Baghdad. David said she assumed James Loney, 41, would be headed to his native Toronto and Harmeet Sooden, 33, would go to his home in New Zealand.
Both Canadians were resting at a location in Baghdad that David referred to as the Canadian embassy building.
"They were at the residence of the British ambassador for the evening - they stayed there overnight and for breakfast this morning with fresh orange juice," she said
"They're fine, they're well fed, they're tired," David added.
Friday was Harmeet's 33rd birthday and David said there was a moment of celebration for him.
"We had a white cake with a pink Canadian maple leaf in the middle of the cake," said David.
Both Canadians, said David, are "deeply grateful to all those who worked for them and prayed for their release."
"Their heads are swirling," she said.
The rescue Thursday of the Canadians and a British hostage was a "textbook operation from start to finish," Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.
Loney, Sooden, and Norman Kember, 74, of London, were abducted at gunpoint on the streets of Baghdad on Nov. 26. The bullet-riddled body of a fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, was found on the streets of Baghdad two weeks ago.
All four were in Iraq working for Christian Peacemaker Teams.
The hostages were rescued by coalition forces and a source has told The Canadian Press that members of Canada's special forces, known as JTF-2, played a role. However, MacKay would not provide any information about the role of the Canadian military in the hostage rescue.
"We don't get into the discussion around tactical or operations details," he said.
"It was an international effort, there were obviously several governments involved (and) Canadian officials were involved throughout the process."
Peter Van Loan, parliamentary secretary to MacKay, said on Thursday that Canada's involvement on the ground "included some Canadian forces in a very limited way, but that was focused on this rescue operation."
MacKay said he was delighted to have made the phone calls to tell the hostages' families of their rescue.
"It was absolutely the best call that I've made in my short time in office," MacKay said. "Hearing the pure joy in their voices - this was a very tense and trying ordeal for them - it's truly a miraculous story."