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Afghan Taliban Says it Released 3 Indian Hostages in Exchange for 11 of its Members: Report

The Taliban officials provided a photo and footage of what they said was the freed militants being greeted after their release.

News18.com

Updated:October 7, 2019, 4:52 PM IST
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Afghan Taliban Says it Released 3 Indian Hostages in Exchange for 11 of its Members: Report
Image for representation.

Islamabad: The Afghan Taliban said it has freed three Indian engineers held hostage for over a year in an exchange for the release of 11 of its members, including some high-ranking officials of the militant group, a media report said on Monday.

According to a report in the Express Tribune, the swap took place on Sunday at an undisclosed location.

The Taliban officials were quoted on the condition on anonymity, citing what they described as the sensitive nature of the issue, the paper cited a RFE/RL report.

The officials refused to say who the militant group exchanged the prisoners with and whether the freed Taliban members were being held by Afghan authorities or US forces in Afghanistan.

The officials said the freed Taliban leaders include Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Mawlawi Abdur Rashid, who had served as the insurgent group's governors of Kunar and Nimroz provinces respectively during the Taliban administration before it was deposed by the US-led forces in 2001.

The Taliban officials provided a photo and footage of what they said was the freed militants being greeted after their release. There was no immediate comment from Afghan or Indian authorities.

Seven Indian engineers working for a power plant in Afghanistan's northern Baghlan Province were kidnapped in May 2018.

No group has claimed responsibility for their abduction. One of the hostages was released in March, but the fate of the others remains unknown.

The identities of the released hostages were not disclosed by the militant group, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted the report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as saying.

The officials said the freed Taliban leaders include Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Mawlawi Abdur Rashid, who had served as the insurgent group's governors of Kunar and Nimroz provinces respectively during the Taliban administration before it was deposed by the US-led forces in 2001.

The Taliban officials provided a photo and footage of what they said was the freed militants being greeted after their release. There was no immediate comment from Afghan or Indian authorities, the report said.

Baradar was in Pakistan along with a 12-member Taliban delegation since Wednesday on the invitation of the Pakistan government.

The Taliban delegation also called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and exchanged views on peace and stability in the South Asian region and bilateral relations in their meeting.

Since his appointment in September last year, Afghanistan-born US envoy Khalilzad has met with all sides in an attempt to end America's longest war in which the US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in more than 17 years.

The US and the Taliban had agreed on draft peace plan, but the process was suspend by US President Donald Trump following killing of an American soldier in Kabul last month in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

Trump stunned the world last month when he suddenly declared that the Afghan peace talks with the Taliban were "dead".

He cancelled a secret meeting with the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David near Washington after the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul, in which an American soldier was among the dead.

The US has continued to push for a ceasefire in the war-torn country and the opening of negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

The Taliban, however, have repeatedly refused to meet with officials of the Afghan government, whom they dismiss as "puppets".

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