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Italian NGO Leaves Afghanistan, Citing Official Threats

(RFE/RL) April 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- An Italian NGO that runs hospitals in Afghanistan has temporarily pulled around 40 international staff from the country, citing threats from the Afghan government.

In a statement today, Emergency said Afghan staff for now will continue to run its three hospitals.

But the organization said it could review its entire operations in Afghanistan after one of its aid workers was arrested by Afghan authorities and following what it called threats from Amrullah Saleh, head of the Afghan National Security Directorate.

Saleh was quoted as saying that Emergency aided and abetted terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Emergency said Saleh's remarks amounted to "an open invitation" to attack it, and also appealed for the release of Rahmatullah Hanefi, head of its hospital in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Hanefi was detained for unclear reasons last month after he helped broker the release of a kidnapped Italian journalist in exchange for five Taliban fighters.

The Taliban killed the journalist's driver last month and said on April 8 that they beheaded his interpreter because the government did not release two more militants.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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