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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 15:34 GMT
Taleban release Turkish engineer
Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali, Ghazni provincial governor Assadullah Khalid and freed Turkish engineer Hasan Onal
Mr Onal (pictured right) said he was "feeling well" and "happy"
A Turkish engineer who was kidnapped by the Taleban in Afghanistan last month has been released.

Hasan Onal was released in Moqur in Ghazni province on Sunday morning and travelled to Kabul, where he told reporters he was happy and well.

Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said there had been no exchange of prisoners or money.

But a Taleban spokesman claimed Mr Onal was freed after the government released two Taleban militants.

Hasan Onal was working on the US-funded Kabul-Kandahar road-building project when he was seized late last month in the southern province of Zabul.

'No deal'

Ghazni's governor Assadullah Khalid said the engineer had been released after talks involving tribal elders and Islamic scholars, but denied that any deal had been reached with the abductors.

Mr Jalali told the news conference in Kabul that during the talks, Mr Onal's captors had realised that keeping him served no purpose, and so they had released him with no conditions.

However, a Taleban spokesman told the AFP news agency that Mr Onal had been released "because he was a Muslim and some of the Taleban we asked to be released for Onal's freedom have been freed".

There have been numerous attacks on the Kabul to Kandahar road, a major development project.

Aid agencies now consider much of the south and south-east of Afghanistan too dangerous to operate in.

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Country profile: Afghanistan
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