Four Afghan hostages released, says Taliban

By Xinhua

Kabul : Four kidnapped Afghan health workers were released by the Taliban early Thursday morning after the body of its killed top commander Mullah Dadullah was retrieved, a caller who claimed to be a Taliban spokesman said.

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The authorities sent the body to Dadullah's family at midnight Wednesday, Shahabudin Atal told over the phone from an undisclosed place.

Taliban militants set free the four health workers shortly afterwards, he added.

The spokesman did not say where the four hostages were released; he said the hostages would return to their homes "in good health."

He said the body of beheaded doctor Abdul Khalil was in Kajaki district of the southern Helmand province and his family could retrieve it there.

Khalil and his four colleagues, including the newly released three nurses and one driver, were abducted in March in Kandahar province, a stronghold of Taliban militants.

The Taliban beheaded Khalil on Tuesday after the government failed to timely transfer Dadullah's body.

Dadullah, a major aide to top Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was killed on May 12 by Afghan and international forces, and his body had been buried by the government at a secret place in Kandahar.