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Germany

German Aid Workers Released

Eight aid workers from the German based charity, Shelter Now, arrested in Afghanistan in August, are on their way home.

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Shelter Now aid workers return home on Thursday

Eight Western aid workers taken hostage by the Taliban in August have been released and flown to Pakistan with US military planes.

US officials said that the hostages were moved from the Taliban stronghold Kandahar to southern Kabul, from where they were airlifted by US forces to a safe location.

The two Americans, two Australians and four Germans have been awaiting trial after being detained by the hardline Islamic Taliban on August 5 for allegedly spreading Christianity. Proselytizing is a crime punishable by death in the Taliban-governed Afghanistan.

Reports of the hostages release began circulating early on Wednesday when the German newspaper, "Frankfurter Rundschau" quoted intelligence sources saying the aid workers had been freed. Initially the reports could not be confirmed by either the German or the US government.

It was not until late Wednesday night that the hostages' situation actually became clear.

John Mercer, father of American detainee Heather Mercer, said withdrawing Taliban forces had taken the aid workers to the militia's southern stronghold of Kandahar after their retreat from Kabul.

The Taliban discontinued the trial of the eight aid workers in October due to the ongoing air strikes by the US.

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