Belfast Telegraph

Annetta kidnappers said sorry for ordeal
Filipino diplomat tells of fears before being set free in alley

By Mary Fitzgerald
02 December 2004

The Filipino diplomat held hostage with Armagh woman Annetta Flanigan in Afghanistan has told how their kidnappers apologised before freeing them.

Angelito Nayan was released unharmed along with his UN colleagues Ms Flanigan, from Richhill and Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo last Tuesday - nearly four weeks after they were abducted in Kabul.

A shadowy Taliban breakaway faction called Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

"They embraced each one of us and apologised profusely for what they did to us, and they even told us not to forget them," Mr Nayan told reporters in Manila in his first full account of their hostage ordeal.

He said they were taken to a car and abandoned in a deserted alley in Kabul.

The kidnappers claim the Afghan government agreed to release 24 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the three hostages, an allegation Afghan officials have strenuously denied.

Mr Nayan said the three hostages were generally treated well but added: "Make no mistake, they were and they are still ruthless."

Mr Nayan said the hostages were moved four times to different houses to escape detection.

"We had to walk one time for four hours. We were chased by dogs, climbed walls, and (crouched in) ditches," he said. "We were led to one house where you think people would be executed. Thank God, it didn't happen.

"I'm really grateful to God that I was with two strong women, and we just comforted each other," he added.

The diplomat recounted how the trio developed "goodwill" with their captors and were allowed to play solitaire, read books and fly kites.

"I don't feel any hatred. Having treated us well, they have shown they have a sense of Afghan hospitality," Mr Nayan said.

However, he said the routine of captivity tested the hostages' sanity.

"You wake up, you eat, you talk to them, you go to the bathroom, you eat, you talk to them, you read some books, you play some cards, you eat and then you sleep," he explained.

Mr Nayan said he considered attempting to escape but decided that "it would be incredibly selfish" to leave the two women behind.

He said he did not hate his kidnappers and believed they were just after money.

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