June 2, 2012
Four aid workers including two women, one British and one Kenyan, who were abducted 12 days ago, were freed early Saturday in a NATO rescue operation in northern Afghanistan, according to a NATO spokesman and the Swiss-based aid organization, Medair.
Captured by insurgents while returning from a visit to a nutrition and hygiene project in the remote, mountainous region of Badakshan Province, the group included two Afghans who worked with the aid organization. The area is so remote that it can only be reached on horseback, and the four were riding back when they were abducted.
The rescue was carried out by specially trained NATO forces in the early hours of Saturday morning working with Afghan forces, and Gen. John R. Allen, the senior allied commander in Afghanistan, took the unusual step of issuing a public statement on the rescue.
“I’m extremely grateful to the Afghan authorities and proud of the ISAF forces that planned, rehearsed, and successfully conducted this operation,” General Allen said. “Thanks to them, Ms. Helen Johnston, Ms. Moragwe Oirere, and their two co-workers will soon be rejoining their families and loved ones.”
Ms. Johnston, 28, is a British citizen, and Ms. Oirere, 26, is Kenyan, said Aurelien Demaurex, the spokesman for Medair, which is based near Lausanne, Switzerland, and has had humanitarian aid projects in Afghanistan since 1996 when the Taliban controlled the country. The two Afghans were not identified for their own safety.
“Medair is relieved that our colleagues are safe,” Mr. Demaurex said. “We are immensely grateful to all parties involved in ensuring their swift and safe return.”
In a statement on its Web site, Medair.org thanked everyone for “their encouragement and support during this very difficult period. We are also very grateful for the overwhelming messages of support from local Afghan communities.”
Taliban insurgents and criminal groups are both active in Badakshan Province, and it appeared that the latter were holding the aid workers, said Abdul Maroof Rasikh, a spokesman for the Badakhshan governor. He said that five kidnappers were killed during the operation.
“They were held hostage by a group of criminal kidnappers and most probably for ransom,” Mr. Rasikh said, “though they have not asked for ransom money or anything else.”
“Five members of the criminal kidnapper’s gang have been killed during the course of rescue operation,” he said. “We have no civilian or military casualties. We conducted this operation jointly with close coordination.”
Rescue operations after kidnappings are extremely risky for the hostages as well as the forces carrying out the rescue. In one rescue effort in Kunar Province, the hostage, Linda Norgrove, who worked with DAI, an American development organization, was fatally injured when a rescuer, part of a Navy SEAL team, threw a grenade.
In Kunduz Province in 2009 when two New York Times reporters were kidnapped, the rescue effort resulted in fighting in which both a British paratrooper who was part of the rescue team and a New York Times journalist, Sultan Munadi, were killed. A secondjournalist was freed.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
4691755 699595 80
her path of destiny = 80 = Dealing with the aftermath.
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