Afghan forces free British land mine charity workers

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Afghan security forces freed dozens of employees of a British anti-landmine charity Tuesday hours after they were kidnapped by the Taliban, officials said.

The kidnap victims were Afghans employed by the HALO Trust, which organizes the clearing of landmines in conflict areas around the world, NBC News reported. Officials said their trucks were ambushed as they headed to an area in Herat province at dawn.


HALO, which has its headquarters in Thornhill in Scotland, also has offices in the United States. The organization got a boost in 1997 when Princess Diana, seven months before her death, visited a minefield HALO was clearing in Angola.

Dr. Farid Homayoun, HALO's Afghanistan program manager, told NBC that 54 of its employees were abducted and were now accounted for. Gen. Hamid Hamidi, deputy police chief in Herat, said a "police operation" freed them.

The Taliban has not released a statement taking responsibility for the kidnapping.

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