Christians Held by Taliban Maintain "Inner Strength"

So Says Freed British Journalist

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, OCT. 11, 2001 (
Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist released late Wednesday by the Taliban after 10 days in captivity, confirmed that she shared a cell briefly last week in Kabul with six detained Christian women relief workers.

«They´d been there for two months, and those women just had a tremendous inner strength,» Ridley said, in an article published by the Daily Express in London.

Ridley, now in Pakistan, described the women´s cell as «about 20 square yards, not even that big,» and noted that, although the Taliban had cleaned it, «it was still squalid.»

The journalist said one of the women was on hunger strike and had not eaten for 20 days. All of the detainees have suffered from stomach problems, according to sources close to their families.

Last week, prisoner Diana Thomas sent a handwritten fax to her pastor in Australia, saying that the detainees have been moved to a location where they are able to cook their own meals and even order food from a nearby restaurant.

The German office of Shelter Now told the Compass news agency that its received new faxes from some of the detainees Wednesday morning, but declined to reveal any of the contents.

There are a total of eight Christian relief workers being held in Afghanistan on charges of proselytism.

They are German citizens George Taubmann, 45; Katrin Jelinek, 29; Margrit Stebner, 43; and Silke Durrkopf, 36; Australians Peter Bunch, 57, and Diana Thomas, 50; and Americans Heather Mercer, 24, and Dayna Curry, 29.

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