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Kidnappers May Meet U.N. Envoy

Militants holding three foreign U.N. workers in Afghanistan caution against rescue, however.

November 02, 2004|From Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Kidnappers threatening to kill three foreign U.N. workers in Afghanistan said Monday that they were willing to meet with an envoy from the United Nations, but they warned that any rescue attempt would end in bloodshed.

The militants, a Taliban splinter group, have demanded that the United Nations leave Afghanistan and that the United States release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They said the hostages were held in more than one location.

"If the government and coalition forces find one of them, we will kill the other two," Ishaq Manzoor, a spokesman for the group, said by telephone.

In another phone call, militant Akbar Agha reiterated a noon Wednesday deadline for action to save the hostages' lives.

Unidentified armed men abducted Annetta Flanigan of Northern Ireland, Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo from a U.N. vehicle at gunpoint in the capital on Thursday.

In Manila, listeners to state-run radio got a surprise Monday when part of a top-level security meeting was accidentally broadcast live, as officials discussed plans to win Nayan's release.

The plug was pulled after several minutes, but word of the gaffe mortified President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She went on national TV to say the government was "taking all appropriate measures" to secure the hostage's release, then announced a news blackout.

In Afghanistan, Agha said that the kidnappers hoped to meet with a U.N. representative today. Afghan officials denied that any contact had been made.

The United Nations said there were no plans to pull staff out of the country, though its foreign workers have been ordered to restrict their movements.

Afghanistan's guerrilla war also continued, with one U.S. soldier killed Monday in Paktika province, near Pakistan, when militants fired rockets and guns at his patrol, said a U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Mark McCann.

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