11/02/2004, 00.00
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Afghan kidnappers offers to negotiate with UN

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Afghan militants threatening to kill three foreign hostages yesterday offered to negotiate with a United Nations envoy, but warned that any rescue attempt would end in bloodshed. The group, Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, reiterated demands that the UN withdraw from Afghanistan and that the United States release Guantánamo prisoners.

Unidentified armed men abducted Annetta Flanigan of Northern Ireland, Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan and Shqipe Habibi of Kosovo from a UN vehicle in the capital, Kabul, on Thursday. A day after the UN election workers appeared pleading for freedom in a video, the Taleban splinter group said the three had been split up and were being held at separate locations. "That's our strategy," said Ishaq Manzoor, a spokesman for the group, in a satellite telephone call. "If the government and coalition forces find one of them, we will kill the other two."

Government officials say they have had no contact with the kidnappers but the group's leader. Mullah Sayed Mohammed Akbar Agha, yesterday said an Afghan businessman had offered to act as a go-between. "One Afghan trader has approached us on behalf of the United Nations and we have nominated a two-member team for talks with him," Agha said in neighbouring Pakistan. "We have proposed that the meeting should be held in Jalalabad tomorrow."

Manzoor suggested that the Army of Muslims, would wait until Friday before killing any hostages, but Agha said their demands had to be met by noon tomorrow. Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a UN spokesman, declined to comment on whether any contact had been made.

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See also
Filipino Church prays for hostages in Afghanistan and Iraq
Carnage at US base in Mosul, 22 dead and more than 60 injured
Kurdish leader: the 3 young men decapitated were just students
Afghans turnout to vote despite sporadic attacks
Kidnapping women and killing children or how Islamic terrorism is morphing


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