World News

Finnish woman abducted in Afghanistan has been freed

By JAN M. OLSEN
Posted: Sep. 14, 2017 7:00 am Updated: Sep. 14, 2017 9:14 am

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Finnish woman who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan was released Thursday and is safe, officials said.

The Foreign Ministry in Helsinki said the family had asked for privacy, and the person's employer, a Swedish organization, had chosen not to confirm any names or disclose information about the abduction, saying it wanted to honor the privacy of those involved.

"It is with great joy that we confirm the release of our Finnish colleague who was abducted on May 20," said the humanitarian organization Operation Mercy in a statement.

In Kabul, the Afghan intelligence agency would only confirm the aid worker had been released but refused to give any further information.

The non-governmental organization, based west of Stockholm, said it was "still mourning the death of our German colleague and the Afghan house guard who were killed in the initial attack on the Kabul home of our colleagues."

Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini told a news conference that Finland did not pay ransom "and never would."

"If we did so, it would only encourage more kidnappings," said Soini, who Thursday had a phone conversation with the woman, who is still in Afghanistan.

"It's been a long and hard summer for her family. Now we can see the light," he added.

Detective Chief Superintendent Thomas Elfgren of Finland's National Bureau of Investigation told the same news conference that the kidnappers are still at large but Afghani police continued to investigate the kidnapping which they believe was planned. He didn't give further details.

The group says it works in central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, helping "the poor and marginalized through community development and humanitarian aid projects."

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Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Estonia, and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.