Taliban vow to release remaining Turkish hostages
Agence France-Presse in Kabul
Taliban insurgent leaders pledged on Monday to release the final four Turkish engineers held hostage since their helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan last month.
Four other Turkish engineers aboard the helicopter were freed on Sunday, three weeks after the crash in Logar province, a Taliban stronghold south of the capital Kabul.
The Taliban said in an emailed statement that the four had been released as a “goodwill, humanitarian gesture and as a sign of respect to the Muslim people of Turkey”.
“The other four will be released in the near future,” it added.
The Islamist militants made no reference to a Russian, a Kyrgyz national and an Afghan also taken hostage after the crash-landing.
At a rally in Istanbul on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that the four engineers had been released after efforts led by Turkish intelligence officers.
The men were freed in a remote area of Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, local officials said, adding that tribal elders had acted as mediators with the Taliban.
The seizure was the largest abduction of foreigners in almost six years and highlighted Afghanistan’s continuing insecurity as Nato combat troops prepare to pull out next year.