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Kidnapped aid workers in afghanistan released

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Kidnapped aid workers are released

THREE United Nations workers kidnapped in Afghanistan were today released unharmed after more than three weeks in captivity.

The freed hostages are Annetta Flanigan, from Northern Ireland, Philippines diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo.

Mrs Flanigan’s family said they were delighted and relieved at her release.

UN officials said she was freed overnight and was in good health after undergoing medical examinations.

Her family said it was an "incredible relief" to know she was safe and well.

Mrs Flanigan, of Richhill, Co Armagh, has now been reunited with her husband, Jose. She was seized at gunpoint along with two colleagues in the capital Kabul on October 28.

A statement from her family read: "We are all absolutely overjoyed at the confirmed news that Annetta and her two colleagues have been released.

"After all the terrible anxiety of the last 27 days it is an incredible relief to know Annetta is safe and well and now reunited with her husband. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have worked to secure Annetta’s release."

Foreign Secretary Mr Straw said he was delighted that the three UN workers had been freed as they had "no quarrel with any Afghan". He said: "Kidnapping, whoever the victims, is an appalling crime. In this case, the three victims had for several months been working, as part of the UN presence in Afghanistan, to ensure the success of the country’s elections.

"They had no quarrel with any Afghan, only a desire to help the country’s people build democracy. The determination of those committed to rebuilding Afghanistan remains as strong as ever."

Militant group Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

The ordeal ended after US and Afghan forces raided two houses in Kabul yesterday and detained ten people in connection with the abductions. Most were released after questioning.

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