Afghanistan Taliban commanders freed 'in swap for Indian hostages'

Afghanistan Taliban commanders freed 'in swap for Indian hostages'

Afghanistan Taliban commanders freed 'in swap for Indian hostages'

Three Indian engineers who were taken hostage approximately six months ago in Baghlan province have been freed in exchange for 11 Taliban prisoners, including leaders, from Bagram prison on Sunday, Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander confirmed.

The prisoners were swapped on Sunday, according to the Express Tribune, quoting two Taliban members.

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.

RFE/RL could not verify the authenticity of the photo and video.

Seven Indians, a lot of them engineers working at a power station, were abducted from northern Baghlan province by the Taliban in May of 2018.

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. One of the hostages was released in March this year, while the fate of the rest of their colleagues remained unclear.

The news came after the Taliban were said to have met the United States peace envoy for the first time since talks collapsed.

Khalilzad met last week in Islamabad with the Taliban's top negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the hard-line Taliban movement and head of a Taliban delegation to the Pakistani capital.

The U.S. insisted Khalilzad was not in Pakistan to restart U.S. -Taliban peace talks _ at least not yet. The Taliban said they were in Islamabad to discuss the condition of roughly 1.5 million Afghan refugees living in the city.

The US and the Taliban had agreed on draft peace plan but Trump stunned the world when he suddenly called off the Afghan peace talks following the death of an American soldier in Kabul in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

Kidnappings are a serious problem in Afghanistan, where gangs or militant groups operate in large areas of the country.

American professor Kevin King, and Australian, Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in Kabul in August 2016.

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