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UNHCR Says Two Journalists Detained In Afghanistan Have Been Freed

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A UNHCR worker explains aid collection procedures to displaced Afghan women on the outskirts of Kabul. (file photo)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says two journalists working for the agency and several of the organization's Afghan staff have been freed hours after being detained in Kabul.

“We are relieved to confirm the release in Kabul of the two journalists on assignment with UNHCR, and the Afghan nationals working with them,” the Geneva-based organization said on Twitter. “We are grateful to all who expressed concern and offered help. We remain committed to the people of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban-led government's deputy minister of culture and communications said they were detained because they didn't have documents that properly identified them as UNHCR.

Zabihullah Mujahid later said on Twitter that they were freed after their identities were confirmed, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier on February 11, the UNHCR announced the detention of the two journalists and Afghan nationals working with them without identifying them or providing further details.

The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) had also condemned the detentions and called for the immediate release of the journalists, one of whom it identified as Andrew North, a former BBC journalist.

“The Taliban must immediately release Andrew North and all other journalists held for their work, and cease harassing and detaining members of the press,” the CPJ said in a statement.

Since the Taliban took over the country last August in the wake of the withdrawal of international forces, the de facto government has been criticized for failing to allow for an independent media.

No country has formally recognized the government, but talks aimed at easing the war-torn country's humanitarian crisis have been taking place this week in Geneva.

Afghanistan's economy has been stalled by sanctions and a halt in development funding since the militants took over the country.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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