Authorities in Afghanistan say security forces have rescued an Australian aid worker, four months after she was kidnapped at gunpoint from her office in the country’s east.
Two armed men posing as Afghan intelligence officers abducted Kerry Jane Wilson, 60, in April from the office of her charity in Jalalabad, capital of the troubled Nangarhar province.
The Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate for Security (NDS), said Monday special forces staged the overnight rescue operation to secure Wilson’s freedom, and arrested four suspects in connection with the kidnapping. An investigation has been launched, it said, but gave no other details.
A provincial government spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told VOA authorities are still trying to ascertain the identity of Wilson’s abductors.
“She will soon be handed over to the concerned [Australian] authorities. People in connection with the kidnapping have also been arrested and are being questioned to determine its motives. Also, the lady is in good health condition,” said Khogyani.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed Wilson has been released unharmed and thanked Afghan authorities.
"I deeply appreciate the work of the authorities in Afghanistan whose support and assistance facilitated her release, as well as Australian consular staff who continue to provide assistance to Ms. Wilson and her family,” Bishop said in a statement.
Wilson’s charity, called Zardozi, is helping woman in Afghanistan to start their own businesses. She has been working out of Kabul for nearly two decades. It is unclear who was behind her abduction.
Bishop would not provide further details on how Wilson's release was secured, warning it could undermine the safety and security of Australians who remain captive or face the risk of kidnapping in Afghanistan. “Her family has asked for privacy,” Bishop added.
The government, as a matter of policy, does not pay ransom in hostage situations, Bishop stated in April while discussing the kidnapping incident.
An Australian teacher and his American colleague at the American University of Afghanistan were kidnapped in Kabul earlier this month. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
Kidnapping for ransom has become a major challenge for Afghan authorities struggling to tackle a Taliban insurgency.
An Indian aid worker was released in July weeks after she was kidnapped at gunpoint near her home in the Afghan capital, Kabul. But neither Afghan nor Indian authorities have since shared details about what was called a rescue operation, or who the hostage takers were.