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Hasan Onal was employed by the Gulsan/Cukrova joint venture, which is sub-contracted to build a notorious stretch of road between Kandahar and Qalat, where two Louis Berger Group Inc. engineers were ambushed in October.

Onal was released on Saturday to tribal elders who alerted government officials.

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Afghan interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said that there was no ransom paid for the release of the engineer. However, project sources based in Kabul told ENR last week that ransom negotiations were ongoing.

A Louis Berger spokesman said, "We are just happy that Mr. Onal has been freed and can see his family again." He declined to comment on the specific circumstances of his release or whether a ransom had been paid.

Onal was kidnapped, along with his Afghan driver on Oct. 30 while driving toward the project's base camp. The driver was later freed with a demand for the release of Taliban prisoners.

The government of Afghanistan released two Taliban prisoners before last week's Eid holiday, which marked the end of Ramadan.

The Louis Berger-led Kabul-Kandahar highway reconstruction project has been the target of repeated attacks over the last year by suspected Taliban and other criminal elements.

The security situation on the project has deteriorated in recent weeks. The U.N. de-mining organization UNMACA, which is responsible for coordinating the de-mining of the road, evacuated its base in Ghazni last month after the murder of a French humanitarian worker.

The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion on Dec. 15.

 

Turkish engineer kidnapped by the Taliban last month while working on a Louis Berger-led road reconstruction project in Afghanistan was released over the weekend and flown back to Turkey Dec. 1.