KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan police freed a German hostage from a Kabul neighborhood and arrested a group of kidnappers early Monday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
The raid freed a 31-year old German captive who was abducted from a restaurant on Saturday, said Zemary Bashari.
"A group of kidnappers were arrested," Bashari said. He did not provide any further details about the operation in western Kabul, not far from the area where the woman went missing.
A spokeswoman for Germany's Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed the woman was "in safety at the German Embassy" in Kabul. She declined to give any further details.
Earlier in the day, the captive, who identified herself as Christina Meier, appeared on a video broadcast by a local television station.
The woman, who worked for the Christian organization Ora International in Kabul, was taken by four men who pulled up to the restaurant in a gray Toyota Corolla. One went inside and asked to order a pizza, two others waited outside the restaurant, and third remained in the car, intelligence officials investigating the incident said.
The man in the restaurant pulled out a pistol, walked up to a table where the woman was sitting with her husband and took her, the officials said on customary condition of anonymity. The husband was not abducted.
Police spotted the speeding car and opened fire, but hit a nearby taxi and killed its driver.
On Sunday, a private Afghan television station broadcast a video in which the woman was shown sitting on the floor inside a room, her head covered with a white scarf.
She was prompted to make remarks both in English and in Dari by a man speaking in broken English. The man then instructed her to show a copy of her German passport and an ID card issued by the aid group she works for.
Tolo TV, which broadcast the video, did not say how it obtained it.
"I am fine. There are no threats against me. I want my country to do what it can for my release," she said in Dari, reading from a piece of paper, occasionally looking toward the camera.
A male voice off camera prompted her to say, "to help" and told her to also use the word "urgent."
"Please help for my release, and help me," she said.
A man wearing sunglasses, and his head covered with a scarf, later appeared in the video and demanded that the Afghan government release a number of unidentified prisoners. He said a member of their group would provide the government with a list.
"We are not bad people. We are a special network," the man said at the end of the video. He did not identify the group or say whether it has ties to the Taliban or other insurgent groups in Afghanistan.