Eight foreign aid workers detained in Afghanistan, including one with Nashville ties, have been safe and in contact with family members since bombing raids began, the U.S. State Department said yesterday.

A representative of the Taliban militia in Kabul, Afghanistan, told Australian diplomats in Pakistan that Dayna Curry and her co- workers in Kabul are "safe and well" and can be contacted with written messages, State Department spokeswoman Julie Reside said. Reside said the United States does not know exactly where the aid workers are, however.

Curry, 29, and her co-workers at Shelter Now International were arrested two months ago on charges of preaching Christianity in Afghanistan, a Muslim country ruled by the Taliban. Their trial was suspended after last month's terrorist attacks in the United States. It resumed Sept. 30, when the aid workers' attorneys were given up to two weeks to prepare a defense. Curry's father, Tilden Curry, said he expects the trial to be `on the back burner` now.

Curry's friends and family have been worried since Sept. 11, when the attacks led U.S. officials to focus on Osama bin Laden, the suspected terrorist mastermind who lives in Afghanistan. Almost four weeks later, U.S. and British forces started bombing the central Asian nation Sunday, a day after President Bush rejected the Taliban's offer to release the aid workers in exchange for calling off the bombings.

Reside said military officials are aware of the aid workers' situation. "We are taking every precaution to ensure their safety. The coalition military is making every effort to avoid attacking civilian areas," Nancy Cassell, Curry's mother, said in an e-mail yesterday morning that she understood the aid workers were in good condition.

Cassell, who is in Islamabad, Pakistan, said she had faxed messages to her daughter and hoped to hear back from her today. "I am doing fine and still trusting that God will see them through this and enable their release," she wrote.

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