RealNews

Three Foreign Hostages Released in Afghanistan

Three United Nations hostages were freed early after almost four weeks in captivity in Afghanistan and the government insisted it made no deal for their release. Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said Annetta Flanigan of northern Ireland, Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo and Filipino Angelito Nayan were deposited at an unspecified location in Kabul. The government was now hunting “the criminal elements” behind the abduction. All three were in good health and appeared unharmed, Jalali and diplomats said. They were taken to a NATO-led peacekeepers’ base, Camp Warehouse, for medical examinations.The trio were snatched from their car in busy lunchtime traffic in Kabul by armed men on October 28. They had been overseeing Afghanistan’s historic presidential election on October 9. Jaishul Muslimeen, a shadowy splinter group of the country’s ousted Taliban rulers, claimed it was holding them and demanded the release of 26 Taliban prisoners in exchange for their freedom. The group’s commander Akbar Agha claimed Tuesday the hostages were freed in exchange for a commitment to free 24 Taliban prisoners.”Under an agreement we have released two UN staffers (a British Irish woman and a Filipino man) and in return the government will release our 24 prisoners,” Agha was quoted as saying by the private Pakistan-based news agency.”We have released the Kosovar Muslim woman on the appeal of a Kosovar Muslim man.”The government however has said it believed a criminal gang was holding the UN workers. US military and Afghan intelligence carried out a dramatic predawn raid in southwest Kabul Monday, firing rockets at one house and storming into two others — smashing through doors before detaining at least 10 people. Relieved officials in the Philippines said they had been informed of the hostages’ safe release. Full Story

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