Four aid workers, including two Western doctors, have been rescued in an early morning military operation in Afghanistan. Their release comes more than a month after they were taken captive.
Helen Johnston, Moragwe Oirere and two Afghan nationals were taken hostage on May 22 in a remote area of northern Badakhshan province.
The two doctors work for the Swiss-based humanitarian organization, Medair.
Coalition forces spokesperson Lt. Lauren Rago described the raid:
“The rescue team was inserted by helicopter, under cover of darkness, and confirmed the presence of the hostages. After securing the location, ISAF forces conducted the rescue mission and successfully freed all four hostages.”
Medair’s spokesman in Switzerland, Aurélien Demaurex, said in a statement that the organization was relieved and immensely grateful to everyone involved in their safe return.
He said Johnston, a British national, and Oirere, a Kenyan, were on their way to be reunited with their families.
U.S. General John Allen, head of the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the rescue operation was conducted with the support of the Afghan Interior Ministry.
Afghan officials said all five hostage takers had been killed in the operation.
Afghan foreign office spokesman Janan Musazia said he was pleased with the outcome of the raid.
Musazia said he welcomed the release of the medical aid workers who were serving the people of Afghanistan in Badakhshan province and congratulated the freed workers, their families, the local people and those involved in the rescue mission.
Several illegal armed groups frequently take advantage of the weak security in the area, kidnapping foreign workers for ransom, or selling them to the Taliban for money.
In 2010, ten medical workers belonging to a U.S.-based Christian aid group were killed by insurgents while working in the same province.