The British Special Forces, which help from their local Afghan compatriots and other members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), undertook a successful hostage rescue bid yesterday in the Afghan province of Badakhshan.Seven alleged hostage-takers, who seem to be affiliated with a pro-Taliban militia group, were killed during the military action. All four hostages, including one Briton and two Afghans were freed unharmed.
According to the British authorities, the hostages were being held in a cave, located in a remote mountainous part of the province, close to the border with Tajikistan. The commandos were transported by military helicopters to the location and dropped near the hide-out. After confirming the presence of both the militants and the hostages, the rescue team launched an attack, freeing the abductees.
Preliminary reports confirm that the freed hostages included one Briton, Helen Johnston. Moragwa Oirere, of Kenya was also freed along with two of his Afghan colleagues. The team, which was working for the Swiss humanitarian organization Medair, was abducted from rural Badakhshan on May 22. The British spokesperson said that the militants were armed with heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who approved the hostage rescue mission, said that the action was necessitated after it was determined that the lives of the hostages were at risk. He said that the British troops co-ordinated their operation with other NATO members and their local Afghan counterparts.
Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, the Deputy Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan and the UK National Contingent Commander, said that the hostages were in excellent condition and they will be reunited with their loved ones very soon. Meanwhile, the deputy governor of Badakhshan, Shams ul-Rahman claimed that the region where the hostages were being held is a stronghold of pro-Taliban smugglers, who are involved in drug trafficking between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.