November 23, 2004

Three UN Hostages Freed in Afghanistan

The three UN hostages taken by Taliban allied terrorists have been freed. Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo, and Angelito Nayan from the Phillipines were in Afghanistan as UN elections workers. The three were captured in late October in Kabul by a group identifying themselves as the Taliban [earlier post here]. Later the group released a video of the three UN hostages pleading for their lives [earlier post here]. The group threatened "to kill them unless U.N. and British troops leave Afghanistan and Muslim prisoners are freed from U.S. jails." Later, the group threatened to behead female hostage Shqipe Hebibi because "She says she is a Muslim. If a Muslim helps infidels or America, that Muslim will be punished first" (earlier post here). After this, spokespersons for the Taliban tried to distance themselves from the group. Reports now indicate that it was a criminal gang that took the hostages, but this is not true. It was Muslim terrorists linked to the Taliban. This story via Chad Evans explains some, but not all of the events. What do you expect from the AP?

Three U.N. workers kidnapped in Afghanistan have been released unharmed after more than three weeks in captivity, officials said Tuesday. "They are out," U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

Officials said the three were freed overnight and were in the Afghan capital. One Western official said doctors were examining the three at a NATO field hospital in Kabul.

The hostages were released late Monday and are in good condition, three Afghan officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Armed men seized Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan, British-Irish citizen Annetta Flanigan and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo in Kabul on Oct. 28, the first such abduction in the Afghan capital since the Taliban fell three years ago.

Afghan officials earlier said they believed a criminal gang carried out the abductions, and that negotiations centered on a ransom demand.

News of the release came hours after U.S. and Afghan forces raided two houses in downtown Kabul on Monday and detained 10 people in connection with the abductions.

Most of the detainees were released after being questioned, an Afghan intelligence official said.

Afghan officials believe a criminal gang carried out the abductions, and that negotiations have centered on a ransom demand. But it remains unclear if the kidnappers are working for a Taliban-linked group that has claimed responsibility and demanded that Afghan and U.S. authorities free jailed comrades.

The leader of the group, which calls itself Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, told AP it had no links to anyone detained in Kabul on Monday.

Akbar Agha also said in a telephone call Monday that the militants were "very close to an understanding" with government negotiators to exchange the hostages for 24 rebels in Afghan jails. [More... ]

Chad Evans has some good analysis also.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:35 AM | Comments |