The SAS are understood to have carried out the helicopter raid on the cave
where Helen Johnson, 28, who was working for an aid project, was being held
along with three other hostages.
One of the other hostages is Moragwa Oirere, 26, a Kenyan-born aid worker who
had previously worked with Save the Children.
David Cameron authorised the rescue attempt after military forces in
Afghanistan briefed him on the planned operation. Speaking outside Number 10
after the raid, he described the rescue effort as "extraordinarily brave"
Miss Johnson's parents Philip and Patricia said: "We are delighted and
hugely relieved by the wonderful news that Helen and all her colleagues have
“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.
“We greatly appreciate the restraint shown by the media since her abduction,
and ask that they continue to respect our privacy at this special time." [/*]
The other two were Afghan colleagues the pair had been working with in the
country. The four rescued hostages were reported to be in a "good
Miss Johnson and Ms Oirere were in the British Embassy in Kabul, while the two
Afghans were safely in their home province.
The operation happened under cover of darkness in the early hours in
Badakhshan province, in the north of Afghanistan.
Five heavily armed hostage-takers were killed during the rescue, officials in
Afghanistan said. The kidnappers, who are believed to have been a criminal
group with links to insurgents in Afghanistan, had made a ransom demand in a
Mr Cameron said he authorised the rescue attempt on Friday afternoon after
becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of Ms Johnston and her
He said all four hostages were rescued safely, no British troops were injured
and a number of Taliban and hostage-takers were killed.
"It was an extraordinarily brave, breath-taking even, operation that our
troops had to carry out," he said.
"I pay tribute to their skill and dedication."
A statement from the Foreign Office added: "Helen and her colleagues were
rescued by ISAF forces, including UK forces, in a carefully planned and
"This operation was ordered by the Commander of ISAF and was authorised by the
"We pay tribute to the bravery of the coalition forces which means that
all four aid workers will soon be rejoining their families and loved ones.
"We have worked closely with the Afghan authorities throughout and we would
like to thank them for their support."
The raid in the remote province of Badakhshan came less than two weeks after
the women had been seized while trekking on horseback to treat villagers
suffering from malnutrition.
Abdel Maruf Rasekh, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the raid had
taken place at 1am in Shahr-e-Bozorg district, in a large forested area near
the Tajikistan border called Koh-e-Laran.
In a statement American General John Allen, the overall commander of the
International Security Assistance Force, which includes British and American
troops in Afghanistan, said: "First, I would like to thank the Afghan
Ministry of the Interior and Minister Mohammadi for their tremendous support
throughout this crisis.
"Second, this morning’s mission, conducted by coalition forces,
exemplifies our collective and unwavering commitment to defeat the Taliban.
“I’m extremely grateful to the Afghan authorities and proud of the ISAF forces
that planned, rehearsed, and successfully conducted this operation.
"Thanks to them, Miss Helen Johnston, Ms. Moragwe Oirere, and their two
co-workers will soon be rejoining their families and loved ones.”
SAS soldiers, assisted by other troops from ISAF's Joint Special Forces Group,
which includes elements American Delta Force soldiers and Navy Seals, as
well as local Afghan security forces, were transported to the cave by
heilcopter and stormed into it, freeing the four hostages.
The aid workers – Miss Johnston and Moragwe Oirere and their two Afghan
colleagues - were kidnapped on May 22.
They worked for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation based
near Lausanne, Switzerland.
Medair said its team had been abducted while "visiting relief nutrition,
hygiene and health project sites" in Badakhshan province.
Aurélien Demaurex, spokesman for the charity, said: “Medair is relieved that
our colleagues are safe. We are immensely grateful to all parties involved
in ensuring their swift and safe return.”
Badakhshan is an impoverished and mountainous province in Afghanistan's far
northeast, and while mainly quiet, there have been pockets of insurgent
Miss Johnston studied at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,
and had worked for the charity in Afghanistan since last year.
Last December she spoke of her work and told how she had regularly seen
skeletal and "other-worldly" children in Badakhshan province.
The deeply conservative area, in which women are unable to go out alone and
have been beaten for taking their children for treatment, has one of the
highest infant mortality rates in the world.
Miss Johnston said: "The international emergency level is a 15 per cent
malnutrition rate, but here it is 30 per cent for under-fives and for the
under-ones it's 60 per cent."
She added: "Some of things I have seen I have had a very emotional
reaction to. The children come to the clinic draped in clothes, looking
quite big, but then you roll up their sleeve to measure them and you see
their tiny little frames. They look other-worldly.
"There was one little boy and I just thought 'what is going on?'"
Miss Oirere was born and educated in Kenya and subsequently worked fro Save
the Children in Africa, as well as other aid projects, before working in
A statement from the coalition described the kidnappers as Taliban, but local
officials said they were petty criminals. Link :http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/9307138/British-medical-worker-among-four-rescued-from-cave-by-special-forces-in-Afghanistan.html
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