Prime Minister David Cameron today hailed the soldiers who rescued a kidnapped British aid worker in Afghanistan in an "extraordinarily brave, breath-taking" operation.
Helen Johnston, 28, Kenyan national Moragwe Oirere, 26, and two Afghan civilians were rescued by coalition forces in an early morning raid after being kidnapped by a group associated with the Taliban on May 22 in Badakhshan province in the north east of the country.
Mr Cameron said he authorised the rescue attempt yesterday afternoon, after becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of Ms Johnston and her colleagues from Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation based near Lausanne, Switzerland.
He said all four hostages were rescued safely, no British troops were injured and a number of Taliban and hostage-takers were killed.
"It was an extraordinarily brave, breath-taking even, operation that our troops had to carry out," he said.
"I pay tribute to their skill and dedication."
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street today, the Prime Minister said the rescue should serve as a warning to terrorists across the world who take British citizens hostage.
"They should know if they take British citizens as hostage we do not pay ransoms, we do not trade prisoners.
"They can expect a swift and brutal end."
Mr Cameron said decisions on rescue attempts were "extraordinarily difficult" and "never rushed into".
But he said he decided the risks to the workers' lives were getting greater.
He added he had spoken Ms Johnston's parents and brother, and the aid worker herself."They are incredibly relieved about what has happened.
"It's just a huge joy that they are finally going to be re-united and they are all healthy and all well."
Rescue involved British troops
He said the rescue involved a number of British troops, helped by ISAF forces as well the Afghan government, and involved a "long route march" without being discovered.
A statement from Ms Johnston's parents Philip and Patricia and brother Peter said they were "deeply grateful" to her rescuers.
"We are delighted and hugely relieved by the wonderful news that Helen and all her colleagues have been freed," they said.
"We are deeply grateful to everyone involved in her rescue, to those who worked tirelessly on her behalf, and to family and friends for their love, prayers and support over the last twelve days.
"We greatly appreciate the restraint shown by the media since her abduction, and ask that they continue to respect our privacy at this special time."