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Central & South Asia
Taliban frees Afghan aid workers
Three men captured with two French nationals released in southern Aghanistan.
Last Modified: 27 May 2007 11:48 GMT
Two French nationals captured with the three Afghan aid workers had already been freed [AFP]
Three Afghans captured with two French colleagues in southern Afghanistan in April have been released by the Taliban fighters holding them, a spokesman for the movement said.

"Our court and leadership council decided to free them. They were freed yesterday," Zabihullah Mujahid said on Sunday.
France-based aid organisation Terre d'Enfance confirmed Mohammad Hashim, Ghulam Rasul and Ghulam Azrat, who were abducted on April 3, had been released.

"Fifty-two days after their kidnapping, Rasul, Hashim and Azrat have today been freed," Antoine Vuillaume, the organisation's president, said.
The French citizens captured during the same ambush have already been released, Celine Cordelier on April 28 and Eric Damfreville on May 11.

The five aid workers were taken from their vehicle in Nimroz province where they were working on a children's project in the town of Zaranj.

Afghans return home

A Taliban website said: "Two French workers were released a month ago. Last night three Afghans - Hazrat, M Hashem and Ghulam Rosl - have been released in Nimroz province without any compensation."

Abdul Wahab, a brother of Rasul and Azrat, said relatives and neighbours had gathered to greet the three hostages when they returned home.

"They're fine. They're very happy. My brother Ghulam Rasul is holding his two sons, crying and kissing them. Ghulam Azrat is holding his two daughters, and crying happily, kissing them, as all the relatives watch," he said.

The Taliban had demanded the withdrawal of all remaining French troops from Afghanistan in return for the group's release.

About 200 French special forces were pulled out of Afghanistan late last year, but 1,000 troops are still stationed in the country.

The Taliban has killed several of its Afghan hostages, including a driver and a reporter abducted in early March with an Italian journalist who was eventually freed in exchange for the release of five Taliban fighters.
  
Kabul has said there will be no more prisoner exchanges after the deal for the Italian journalist provoked widespread anger and accusations the government cared more about freeing the foreign hostage than the two Afghans.
Source:
Agencies
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