Tourist crash abroad

November 16th, 2004  

Topic: Tourist crash abroad

Does stuff like this happen in your country?

KABUL (Reuters) - Militants who have threatened to kill three U.N. workers abducted in Afghanistan almost three weeks ago have appeared to narrow demands for their release and said they would meet later in the day to decide their fate.

Mullah Sabir Momin, a commander of the Jaish-e Muslimeen (Army of Muslims), said on Tuesday the Taliban splinter faction had dropped demands for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan and the release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

But Momin, one of several militants claiming to speak for the group, said it was still insisting on the release of 15 Taliban members held in southern Afghanistan. "Without releasing them, the issue will not be resolved," he told Reuters.

"To make the negotiations a success, we have withdrawn from two of our important demands," Momin said. "This we have done in good faith, because we want the release of our Taliban prisoners and also a safe and peaceful solution to the hostage issue."

Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Kosovan Shqipe Hebibi and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan were abducted on October 28 after helping run presidential elections won by U.S.-backed incumbent Hamid Karzai.

Jaish-e Muslimeen has previously threatened to kill the hostages unless 26 Taliban prisoners, including some who could be in U.S. custody in Cuba or Afghanistan, were freed.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage ruled out any releases from U.S. custody when he said in Kabul last week that compromising would lead to more kidnappings.