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Karzai Hails Release Of Italian Hostage

Afghans had rallied for Cantoni's release 10 June 2005 -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai today praised the work of the country's Interior Ministry as well as tribal leaders for helping win the release of kidnapped Italian aid worker Clementina Cantoni.

Karzai's office said Cantoni's release yesterday after 24 days of captivity was the result of efforts by security forces and many segments of society including tribal elders and Muslim clerics. Afghanistan's Interior Minister Ali Ahmed Jalali yesterday made similar comments.

"We are very grateful to the tribal leaders, community leaders who helped us all along in there work negotiation on behalf of us at some points, directly and indirectly," Jalali said. "So therefore the weight of all this effort finally persuaded the kidnappers to free her."

Cantoni, a 32-year-old worker for the CARE International aid agency, is described by officials as being in good condition after her ordeal. The identity of her kidnappers remains unknown.

She is expected to be flown to Rome from Kabul on board an Italian airplane later today. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi says he is overjoyed and deeply relieved by Cantoni's release.