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German aid worker kidnapped by Taliban now free

May 29, 2015

A German national working for the GIZ is free again after spending more than 40 days in Taliban capitivity. Foreign Minister Steinmeier said he was "relieved" to know the aid worker was in government care.

Kämpfer der Taliban ARCHIVBILD 2008
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

A German aid worker kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan succesfully fled his captors overnight Thursday and Friday, according to his own account of events, after spending more than 40 days in captivity.

The aid worker was working in Afghanistan for the German Society for International Development (GIZ), a publicly-owned development corporation.

He was kidnapped in Kunduz while en route to the adjacent province Balkh.

"Our officers saw a man coming towards our checkpoint" in the early morning," a police official told DPA news agency.

"When the officers brought him to the checkpoint, we found out that he was not speaking Dari or Pashto, the two official languages in Afghanistan," the police official noted.

Two German Special Forces' helicopters retrieved the aid worker and took him to a military base for processing, the official added.

Foreign ministry confirms

Germany's foreign ministry confirmed the German national was no longer in captivity and under government care.

"Foreign Minister (Frank-Walter) Steinmeier is relieved that a German man who was abducted in mid-April has been free since last night," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli told reporters on Friday.

"He is doing well under the circumstances and is in the custody of the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif" in northern Afghanistan, Chebli added.

Chairwoman Tanja Gönner said the GIZ was "hugely relieved" at the news "and would like to sincerely thank everyone who contributed towards this outcome."

Steinmeier and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani are said to have discussed the missing aid worker in early May.

"The German government wishes to thank the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces for their full support in Kabul and Kunduz," the spokeswoman said.

No details were provided on whether the German government paid a ransom for the worker's release. However, Chebli said that the "government does not allow itself to be blackmailed."

ls/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)