BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) — Government troops in this tiny central Asian state have freed four U.S. mountaineers held hostage by rebel Islamic fighters, the presidential press service said today.
"During the fighting, four hostages were freed — four American climbers," a spokesman said, without giving any further details of where or when they were released.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Bishkek said he had no information on the four, adding that U.S. citizens were advised to register with the embassy but that many did not.
The State Department on Thursday warned its citizens to avoid travel to embattled parts of Kyrgyzstan, saying the security situation in places was "fluid and potentially dangerous."
Late last week a group of rebels entered Kyrgyzstan and neighboring Uzbekistan from bases in a third former Soviet republic, Tajikistan, and fought government troops.
The rebels are thought to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which opposes Uzbek President Islam Karimov, sweeping across borders in a remote, mountainous area where all three countries share frontiers.
The region is a popular mountaineering destination.