Four workers who were kidnapped by Afghan militants on May 22nd in Badakhshan province have been rescued following a daring NATO helicopter raid.
Helen Johnston and Moragwe Oirere, along with two of their Afghan translators, work for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organization, which is based near Lausanne, Switzerland, according to The Associated Press.
Newser reports that U.S. Gen. John Allen, who is the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, stated that the rescue was conducted by coalition forces with the support of the Afghan Ministry of Interior. Seven militants were reportedly killed during the operation, which took place around 1 a.m. on Saturday.
Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a coalition spokesman, stated, according to Newser, that a helicopter rescue team reached the scene before dawn. He stated:
“They were kidnapped by an armed terrorist group with ties to the Taliban. The kidnappers were armed with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s. They were kidnapped by an armed terrorist group with ties to the Taliban.”
CBS News reports that British Prime Minister David Cameron stated:
“It was an extraordinarily brave, breathtaking even, operation that our troops had to carry out. We will never be able to publish their names but the whole country should know we have an extraordinary group of people who work for us who do amazingly brave things.”
Helen Johnston’s family released a statement saying that they were both delighted and relieved by the news that their daughter and her colleagues had been rescued. CBS News reports that the statement read:
“We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in her rescue, to those who worked tirelessly on her behalf, and to family and friends for their love, prayers and support over the last twelve days.”