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Freed German aid worker flown out of Afghanistan: NGO

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Tue Aug 21, 7:07 AM ET

KABUL (AFP) – A pregnant German aid worker rescued from her kidnappers in a dramatic police swoop has been flown out of Afghanistan, her boss said Tuesday, insisting she had been well treated by her captors.

Christina Meier was flown with her husband “to a safe location outside Afghanistan,” said Joop Teeuwen, the country director for the Christian aid organisation ORA-International.

Teeuwen said Meier had been well treated and medical checks after her release confirmed she was in “perfect health” after her 36-hour ordeal.

“She said she was treated well. She loved working… here with the Afghan people. The kidnappers treated her well,” he said.

“She was planning to go back to her home country due to normal pregnancy leave that we have in our organisation. She expressed willingness to stay and we allowed her.”

Meier was said by sources to be in the fifth month of pregnancy. Teeuwen said it was too early to say if she was willing to return to Afghanistan, adding that Meier had been with the aid agency for more than a year.

The German woman’s kidnapping was the latest in a string of abductions of foreigners mainly blamed on Taliban insurgents who have been holding 19 South Koreans and another German national hostage for more than a month.

The Afghan interior ministry has said a criminal gang motivated by money was behind Meier’s abduction in heavily guarded Kabul.

Teeuwen gave no details of any ransom demand, but said his organisation, which has been operating in the country since 1991, had been involved in the negotiations for her release.

She was eventually rescued when police swooped on her abductors’ hideout in a pre-dawn operation in Kabul early Monday.

Meanwhile talks between the Taliban and South Korean negotiators aimed at freeing the 19 Korean aid workers have stalled after face-to-face talks broke down last week.

Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone that there had been no fresh contacts between Taliban negotiators and South Korean officials on Tuesday.

“There is nothing new. We’ve not heard anything from the Koreans and we’re still waiting for our leaders to decide the next steps on the fate of the Koreans,” Ahmadi said.

The militants have signalled increasing impatience with the drawn-out negotiations. An Afghan source close to the talks said the Taliban had rejected a cash ransom offer for the hostages.

The kidnappers on Monday accused Korean hostage negotiators of not doing enough to persuade the Afghan government to accept their demands to release Taliban prisoners.

“Their efforts are not sufficient,” said another purported spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed.

“The Korean nation must understand that if their hostages are harmed their government will be responsible, because it doesn’t do much to gain their release,” he said in a statement read over the telephone.

He said the South Korean negotiators had pleaded for more time.

“The Koreans are telling us that ‘we’re trying to persuade the Kabul administration and the US government to accept the Taliban demands’ — but it seems they can’t,” he added.

The Taliban have threatened to kill the remaining hostages if their demands are not met.

The US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly refused to bow to the Taliban’s demands, with Washington also rejecting a prisoner swap.

The militants killed two men in the 23-member group shortly after they were seized in insurgency-plagued south Afghanistan. They released two female hostages a week ago after opening direct talks with South Korean officials, leaving 19 in captivity.

The extremists are also still holding a German man, Rudolph Blechschmidt, 62, who was kidnapped with a colleague on July 18 in Wardak province.

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Written by afghandevnews

August 21, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Security

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