Taliban frees Lebanese hostage

A Lebanese engineer kidnapped by the Taliban last week has been released after his company agreed to stop operations in Afghanistan.

    The Taliban has vowed to disrupt next month's elections

    Safieddine Mohammad Rida, a mechanical engineer working for a Lebanese company that sells diesel engines, had been abducted on Sunday in the southeastern province of Zabul.


    "The Lebanese engineer has been released. He's in good health," said Gulab Shah Alikhil, spokesman for the Zabul governor, on Thursday.


    The Taliban earlier said they had freed the Lebanese. The group's

    spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said Mohammad Rida was released on Thursday morning at 10am. 

    "His company has agreed to leave Afghanistan from today (Thursday)," Hakimi told Reuters. He said Rida had been released near a US base in Shajoy, Zabul province.

    Rida was kidnapped by Taliban
    rebels on 14 August

    Suspected Taliban members have kidnapped several Turkish and Indian nationals working on road projects in Zabul in the past, but have released them unharmed after ransoms were paid.

    Hakimi said the Turkish Construction Company (TCC), which he said had hired Rida to work on a US-funded road project, had agreed to pull out of Afghanistan.

    Scores of projects

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry has distanced TCC from Rida, but there are scores of engineering projects currently underway in Afghanistan being constructed by myriad contractors and sub-contractors.

    The Taliban, ousted by US-led forces in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, has vowed to disrupt Afghanistan's parliamentary elections scheduled for next month.

    The hardline Islamic group has also sworn to wage a holy war against the government, aid workers and foreign forces.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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