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Afghan Group Claims UN Hostages Well

30 October 2004 -- A militant group claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of three foreign UN election workers in Afghanistan says the hostages are safe.

Akbar Agha, a spokesman for the breakaway Taliban faction Jaish-e-Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, told Reuters news agency the hostages were well. He said they would only be released if all Taliban prisoners held in Afghanistan and the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were freed.

The three UN employees -- a Filipino man, a woman from Kosova, and a second woman from Northern Ireland -- were abducted by gunmen in Kabul on 28 October.

The UN and aid agencies have called for tightened security following the incident.

Afghan police today accidentally wounded a UN driver after opening fire at a second car that had failed to stop at a checkpoint.