Eight foreign aid workers held by the Taleban have been rescued from Afghanistan by the U.S. military. President Bush says the rescue is incredibly good news and that the eight are now safely in neighboring Pakistan.
Details of the rescue are still sketchy. The president will not say how they were released. He says the important thing is they are free. "I'm thankful they're safe," he says. "I am pleased with the way our military has conducted its operations, and I am glad to report to the American people this chapter of the Afghan theater has ended in a very positive and constructive way."
The aid workers include two Americans, two Australians and four Germans. They were detained by the Taleban in early August and later put on trial for spreading Christianity.
During a hastily arranged session with reporters at his Texas ranch, President Bush acknowledged he had been worried for some time about their fate. "I was worried for their safety. We had thought of different ways in which we could extricate them from the prison they were in," he says.
He says America got some help from people on the ground, including the International Red Cross. He says they paved the way for U.S. military helicopters to go in and carry the aid workers to safety. "I am really proud of our Armed Forces and I'm also thankful for the folks in Afghanistan who helped with this rescue," he says. "There have been a lot of people praying for the eight - eight innocent folks."
Mr. Bush says this part of the military mission is now complete. But, once again - as he has on so many occasions - he said the operation against al-Qaida and Taleban targets will not end until the terrorists and those who support them are brought to justice. "We still want al-Qaida, and we want to make sure that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorist activity," he says. "That has yet to be accomplished."
The president says he is patient and the military operation will continue for as long as it takes to meet that objective.