Taliban frees German, four Afghan hostages

November 14th, 2007 - 2:00 am ICT by admin  
German Rudolf Blechschmidt, 62, was in good health, said Mohammad Naeem, the Governor of Jaghato District in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province.

Naeem said the exchange happened at the government intelligence office in provincial capital Maidan Shah about 60 kilometres east of Kabul.

He said the five prisoners freed for the hostages were “not very important Taliban commanders, but they are related to the abductors of the German engineers.”

Taliban commander Mullah Baheer, who masterminded the kidnapping, confirmed the release of the five hostages.

According to The News, a German official in Kabul also confirmed that the engineer was free.

“He is fine. He is on his way to Kabul,” he said on condition of anonymity. He said it was too early to say if and when he would leave for Germany.

Blechschmidt was captured in Wardak on July 18 with another German who fell sick and was shot dead. The men were seized with five Afghan colleagues, one of whom escaped.

They were taken a day before Taliban insurgents abducted 23 South Koreans in adjoining Ghazni Province.

The rebels killed two of the South Koreans after Kabul steadfastly refused to meet their demand for the release of Taliban prisoners.

The Afghan government came under heavy international criticism for freeing five senior rebels in March to free an Italian hostage whose driver and interpreter were beheaded.

The surviving South Korean aid workers were eventually freed in August after direct talks between the Taliban and Seoul that reached a secret deal.

The Taliban said afterwards that the kidnapping of foreign nationals was an effective measure to pressure the government.

Four workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were abducted September 26 while returning from a mission to try to free the group.

The Taliban said the four ICRC staff — two of them foreigners — were captured “by mistake.” They were released after three nights. (ANI)

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