Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Taliban releases German engineer kidnapped in July

AP , BERLIN

A German engineer who was taken hostage in Afghanistan in July was freed yesterday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

Rudolf Blechschmidt told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine after being released that he was "doing well."

"I'm just a little tired," he told the magazine in a short telephone interview posted on its Web site.

Blechschmidt had also talked with the German ambassador by telephone and confirmed he was safely in the custody of Afghan security forces, Steinmeier said in a statement.

"We are all pleased and relieved," Steinmeier said.

The release comes just two days after Blechschmidt appeared on a new videotape, appealing to Afghan and German governments to make a deal with the militants for his release before winter.

Blechschmidt said in the video that he was in poor health but that an Afghan doctor had helped him.

Blechschmidt is one of two German engineers and five Afghans taken hostage on July 18 in Wardak Province in central Afghanistan.

The other German was found dead of gunshot wounds on July 21, while one of the Afghans apparently escaped.

On the video, Blechschmidt said the German Embassy had refused to engage in talks for a time, but that negotiations had restarted recently and that "we hope we will become free."

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