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Afghanistan mine clearers freed

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BBC News / Monday, 10 September 2007

Ten members of an Afghan mine clearing team kidnapped last week have been released, officials say.

Those freed, two of them doctors, were among 13 people being held in eastern Paktia province. It is not clear who abducted them or what they want.

Officials say tribal elders are still negotiating with the kidnappers and the remaining hostages will be freed soon.

The de-miners were travelling in two cars on Thursday when they were seized by insurgents, police said.

Taleban denial

Kefayatullah Eblagh, the head of the independent de-mining agency, Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) for which the men work, confirmed the release.

“An eight-member delegation of tribal chiefs had guaranteed the safety of the de-miners, so they worked out their freedom,” he told Reuters news agency.

Mr Eblagh said that according to the elders, the other three men kidnapped – two de-miners and one driver – would be freed within two more days.

Din Mohammad Darvish, a spokesman for the local administration, said no ransom had been paid.

“Ten of them have been freed and negotiations to free the remaining three others are under way,” he told AFP news agency.

Mr Darvish did not say who the kidnappers were, merely describing them as “enemies of Afghanistan” – a term often used to describe Taleban.

A Taleban spokesman has said the movement was not behind the abduction.

The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Kabul says Afghans are kidnapped far more often than foreigners, sometimes by criminal gangs and sometimes by insurgents.

The kidnapping comes after a number of high-profile abductions by the Taleban in recent months.

In July, 23 South Koreans were taken hostage. Two were killed and the others released, the last of them in late August.

Mine clearers abducted in the past have sometimes been released and sometimes killed, our correspondent says.

Deadline for closure of Jalozai Refugee Camp extended

ISLAMABAD, Sept 8 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The government of Pakistan has issued a new deadline for the closure of Jalozai Refugee Camp after elders of the camp signed documents pledging to honour voluntary evacuation by March 2008.

Earlier, the camp was scheduled to be closed on August 31 in accordance with the decision of the government of Pakistan and UNHCR. However, elders of the camp, in a written application to the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), requested an extension and pledged to vacate the camp by March next year.

They said that the upcoming holy month of Ramazan and the subsequent harsh winters would make it difficult for the refugees to move out. Pakistan has already closed down the Kachha Garhi refugee camp, which was set up over two decades ago.

A special Jirga of the Afghan refugee elders was held to make a final decision on the closure of Jalozai Camp. The camp has a total of 111,000 refugees, 25,000 of whom have repatriated voluntarily.

SAFRON Secretary Sajid Hussain Chatta, Afghan Refugees Chief Commissioner Rauf Khattak, NWFP Afghan Refugees Commissioner Nasir Azam Khan, Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MORR) representative Ahmadzai, UNHCR representatives, and Jalozai Camp elders attended the Jirga.

The SAFRON secretary told the jirga that the government and UNHCR had decided to close four refugee camps, two each in NWFP and Balochistan, after detailed deliberations.

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Written by afghandevnews

September 10, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Demining

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