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Afghan Security Forces Rescue 2 Kidnapped Turkish Engineers - 2004-03-12

Afghanistan's security forces have rescued two Turkish engineers and their interpreter, who were kidnapped in December. Afghan officials say two kidnappers were killed in the operation and two policemen slightly injured.

Afghan Interior Minister Ali Jalali told reporters the rescue took place before dawn Friday, in a town just south of the capital, Kabul.

The captives included two Turkish nationals who had been working on a water project at the time of their abduction.

In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed a spate of kidnappings involving foreign aid workers, some of which have been attributed to anti-government insurgents loyal to the country's former Taleban regime.

Mr. Jalali did not comment on the identity of the kidnappers, but described them as terrorists.

In many past cases, Afghan authorities have secured the release of the captives through negotiations with the kidnappers.

Mr. Jalali says that his ministry would have preferred to settle this case peacefully, as well.

"We did not want to stage military operations in the beginning," he said. "However, eventually we saw that there was no other option."

In an incident earlier this month in southeastern Afghanistan, another Turkish engineer was kidnapped and is still missing, while a second was killed in an ambush attack.

Afghan forces along with U.S. and other foreign troops have been deployed throughout the country in an effort to provide security for those working on reconstruction projects.