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Three UN Hostages Freed In Afghanistan

23 November 2004 -- Three foreign UN workers held hostage in Afghanistan have been freed almost four weeks after they were abducted in the capital Kabul.

Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said the hostages -- a Filipino, a Briton, and a Kosovar -- are all in good health.

"We are pleased to announce that the three UN workers taken hostage 27 days ago have been released safely and are in a secure location. Results from a preliminary medical examination show that they appear to be in good health," Jalali said.

News of the release came hours after U.S. and Afghan forces raided two houses in downtown Kabul yesterday and detained 10 people in connection with the abductions.

Confusion had arisen over who was holding the UN workers after the Afghan government said last week it doubted they were with a Taliban splinter group, the Jaysh al-Muslimin (Army of Muslims), and were most likely with a criminal gang.

Jalali says no deal was made with the kidnappers. Akbar Agha, a member of Jaysh al-Muslimin, had claimed the hostages were released in exchange for 24 Taliban prisoners.

But Jalali denied this. He told reporters in Kabul that there had been discussions with the kidnappers, but he said "no prisoners were released, no money was paid, no demand was accepted."