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Australian Aid Worker Released in Afghanistan

  • Ayesha Tanzeem

FILE - An Afghan man rides his bicycle in front of the office of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2016. Criminal gangs in Afghanistan often kidnap foreign aid workers, sometimes selling them to insurgents.

An Australian aid worker, kidnapped in Afghanistan in November, has been released.

Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, confirmed that the woman was released in Kabul Monday.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement confirming the release. "We thank the authorities in Afghanistan for their support and assistance," the statement said.

"Her family welcomes her safe return and asks that the media respect their privacy at this time," it added.

The woman was kidnapped at gunpoint in one of Kabul’s upscale neighborhoods.

Neither the Australian embassy, nor anyone in the Afghan government has provided any information on how and why the woman was released.

Kidnappings, mostly for ransom, are considered one of the biggest risks for foreigners working in the country. Criminal gangs often kidnap people and sometimes sell them to insurgent groups like the Taliban.

Another Australian, a professor at the American University of Afghanistan, remains a hostage, along with an American colleague. Both were seized last August in Kabul.

In January, the two appeared in a video begging the American government to negotiate with their captors. The video was the first sign that the two were alive.

Another Australian aid worker was rescued last August by Afghan special forces.

Similarly, an Indian aid worker from the Aga Khan Foundation was kidnapped in Kabul last June.

While foreigners are a prime target, wealthy Afghans also face the risk of kidnapping. The Afghan Taliban also sometimes kidnap people using illegal check points.

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