Westerners jailed by Taliban see families

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The Independent Online

Relatives and Western diplomats spent two hours on Monday with eight jailed international aid workers accused by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers of preaching Christianity.

No statements were released by either the relatives or the diplomats after the meeting, held less than two hours after they arrived in the Afghan capital on a chartered United Nations aircraft.

Taliban soldiers stood guard outside the high-walled compound where the meeting was held and where the aid workers ­ two Americans, four Germans and two Australians ­ have been detained for more than three weeks. They are being imprisoned in a reform school for delinquent children ­ many of them street children arrested for begging.

The aid workers were arrested with 16 Afghan staff of Shelter Now International, a German-based Christian organisation. It was not known where the Afghan staff are being held and so far the Taliban has refused to permit anyone to see them.

Wrapped in a black shawl, the mother of Dana Curry, one of the aid workers, fought back tears when she spoke briefly after arriving. "The only reason I am here is to see my daughter," she said. "All I know about her condition is what I have seen in the press."

She added that her daughter suffered from asthma. Earlier yesterday, the Taliban said Ms Curry had been ill over the weekend after what appeared to have been an asthma attack.