Afghan Taliban Releases 4 Kidnapped Turkish Engineers

Posted September 4th, 2011 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghanistan's Taliban movement has released four Turkish engineers who were kidnapped last December in the eastern province of Paktia.

The insurgent group handed over the four Turks to the International Committee of the Red Cross in neighboring Ghazni province late Saturday into early Sunday.

The Taliban said it freed the men as a humanitarian gesture in honor of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. One of the released hostages, who gave his name only as Imam, told the French news agency that he and his compatriots were not tortured in captivity.

In another development, Afghan officials say a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle near employees of a private security company in the southern province of Kandahar, killing two and wounding 21 other people. The officials say Sunday's attack targeted an Afghan security company that provides logistical services to NATO forces in the country.

Elsewhere, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a Saturday shooting attack that killed an Afghan police commander in Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Gunmen abducted the four Turkish engineers and their Afghan driver on December 26, 2010 while the five men were traveling in Paktia. Afghan officials said the Turkish engineers worked for a company building border posts in the area. Afghan insurgents occasionally have kidnapped foreigners in recent years, releasing some after negotiations, but killing others.