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Hostage Standoff Ends in Tajikistan

<i> Associated Press</i>

A warlord freed his last six hostages Monday--five of them U.N. workers--ending a two-week standoff in this Central Asian country.

The breakthrough came after President Emamali Rakhmonov ventured into the mountains east of Dushanbe, the capital, on Monday to personally negotiate for the hostages’ release.

The warlord, Bakhram Sadirov, had demanded direct talks with the president. After the meeting, he released the hostages and apologized for taking 16 captives since Feb. 4.

“I would like to express my apologies to the world community,” Sadirov said on Russia’s independent NTV television. “We had no other options. Our aim was to get back 40 people.”

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Sadirov had demanded that the government pick up and deliver 40 of his fighters from bases in Afghanistan. Thirty-three were handed over Saturday.

Details of the discussion between the president and Sadirov’s representatives were not released.


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