NATO and Afghan forces launched a daring rescue operation to save two female foreign aid workers and their two Afghan colleagues after the Taliban threatened to kill one of the hostages, an intelligence official reported on Sunday.
The successful mission was carried out the before dawn Saturday. Helicopters were used to extract the aid workers from a mountainous cave in the northern Badakhshan province. According to the Afghan intelligence spokesman ShafiqullahTahiri, eight militants were killed during the rescue mission.
The militants were armed with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles, but were overwhelmed by British troops operating alongside other NATO and Afghan forces.
The militants’motive for killing the hostages was to pressure negotiators to accept their demands of a $1 million ransom and the release of five militants imprisoned in Kabul, reportedTahiri.
The four hostages work for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organization based near Lausanne, Switzerland.Helen Johnston, 28, from Britain, and MoragwaOirere, 26, from Kenya, and their two Afghan colleagues were kidnapped on May 22 while traveling on horseback in Badakhshan.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday that he approved the operation after becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of the hostages. He emphasized militants should know that Britain does not pay ransoms or trade prisoners, and anyone who kidnaps British citizens “can expect a swift and brutal end.”