Four members of a Swiss-based humanitarian group Medair, held hostage since May 22 in a remote part of north eastern Afghanistan, have been freed unharmed. Five hostage takers were killed in the rescue operation.
The rescue was confirmed by a British Foreign Office spokesperson, who said the aid workers “were rescued by Isaf [the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan] forces, including UK forces, in a carefully planned and coordinated operation”.
“This operation was ordered by the Commander of Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] and was authorised by the [British] Prime Minister.”
Sakhidad Haidar, chief of the provincial police described the mission at Shar-I-Buzurg in Badakhshan province on Friday night as a joint operation between Afghan special forces and Nato.
The Medair workers, including a British nutritionist and Kenyan medic, were reportedly on their way to visit the flood-stricken mountainous area of Badakhshan when they were kidnapped.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the said the rescue was a warning to terrorists who take British citizens hostage that they can expect a "swift and brutal end".
In 2010, eight British doctors were killed in the province.
Isaf commander General John R Allen, said the mission "exemplifies our collective and unwavering commitment to defeat the Taliban".
"I'm extremely grateful to the Afghan authorities and proud of the Isaf forces that planned, rehearsed, and successfully conducted this operation," he added.
Based in Ecublens in canton Vaud, Medair is an emergency relief agency which has been active in Afghanistan since 1996. There it employs 15 expatriate and 175 local staff.
swissinfo.ch and agencies