3 Afghans held hostage for weeks are freed

The Baltimore Sun

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Three Afghan employees of a French aid organization, who had been held hostage for seven weeks by Taliban insurgents, were freed unharmed after local residents intervened, the governor of Nimruz province, Ghulam Dastagir Azad, said yesterday.

The three men were kidnapped along with two French aid workers on April 3. They had been working on a project for A World for Our Children in Zaranj, in the far southwestern part of the country.

The two French workers, a woman and a man, were freed separately in recent weeks, despite initial threats from the Taliban that they would kill them unless France withdrew its troops and ended its assistance to Afghanistan.

The governor said that the three Afghans were in good health and had been released without payment of a ransom.

He said that the council of religious leaders, tribal elders and the families of the three Afghans had contacted the Taliban, explained that the Afghans were working for a children's aid organization and persuaded the Taliban to release them.

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