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Tajikstan: Hostage-takers Release UN Observer

Dushanbe, 11 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - A United Nations official says one of 15 captives has been freed by hostage-takers in Tajikistan.

A UN spokesman in the Tajik capital Dushanbe told Reuter that "U.N. military observer Major G. Hoenig has been released." The spokesman said that UN officials believe Hoenig, an Austrian national, had been seriously ill since his capture last week.

The remaining 14 hostages include UN staff, Tajikistan's security minister, and Russian journalists.

Earlier today, the Tajik government said it had agreed to a demand of gunmen holding the hostages that allied gunmen in neighboring Afghanistan would be brought safely into Tajikistan.

Tajik Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov told an RFE/RL correspondent that he hoped the hostage crisis would be solved "in the next few days."