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Georgia: UN Hostages Freed

Tbilisi, 10 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Three United Nations military observers and their Georgian interpreter were today freed after spending five days as the captives of a group of gunmen in the Kodori Gorge between the separatist Abkhazia region and the rest of Georgia. Georgian officials said no ransom was paid for the release of the two Germans, one Dane, and the interpreter. The gunmen who had held the four were allowed to leave the area after negotiations on the release of the captives.

German Defense Minister Peter Struck said in Berlin that the former hostages are in good health. The former hostages were part of the UN mission to monitor the cease-fire between Georgia and Abkhaz separatists.

It was the third kidnapping incident involving UN officials in the area in three years. In each incident, hostages have been released after negotiations. A helicopter carrying nine UN observers and staff was shot down near Kodori in October 2001, killing all aboard.