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Kidnapped Afghan politician freed: relative

A one-time Afghan presidential candidate and relative of the late king was freed almost a week after he was kidnapped in Kabul, a family member and an intelligence official said.

world Updated: Oct 26, 2008 20:15 IST

A one-time Afghan presidential candidate and relative of the late king was freed Sunday almost a week after he was kidnapped in Kabul, a family member and an intelligence official said on Sunday.

Humayun Shah Asifi, a royalist politician who stood in the 2004 presidential elections won by Hamid Karzai, was abducted last Monday.

Asifi, in his 60s, was freed in an operation by Afghan security forces, his grand-nephew, Mustafa Zahir told AFP.
"He's fine but sounded a bit tired when I spoke to him minutes earlier," said Zahir, the grandson of Afghanistan's former king Mohammd Zahir Shah.

He said authorities had told him "all of the kidnappers" were arrested and they were criminals, not insurgents allied with the Taliban movement which has also kidnapped several people.

"One thing I'm sure about is that they were not Taliban," he said.

An official in the country's intelligence department, which led the rescue, confirmed Asifi was freed.

Afghanistan's capital has seen an escalation in kidnappings in recent months. The son of a key Kabul banker, who was abducted this month, was freed in a separate operation, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Rising crime and extremist attacks this year have sent security plummeting in Afghanistan, which is struggling to cope with a insurgency led by the Taliban.