Taliban demand prisoner swap for policemen
The off-duty policemen were kidnapped by the Taliban in an ambush in the Chapa Dara district when they were returning from neighbouring Nuristan province where they had traveled to collect their salaries, provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Khalilullah Ziaee, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Tribal elders had launched their efforts to secure the release of the adducted policemen, he said.
Nasrullah Sapi, a member of the provincial council, said tens of tribal elders were in talks with the abductors. Five vehicles in which the abductees were traveling had been freed, he said, adding the Taliban wanted the release of their 12 men from Afghan prisons in exchange for the hostages.
The policemen were in civilian clothes and had no weapons with them, the governor, Jamaluddin Badr has said.
Kunar and Nuristan are remote and mountainous provinces that share a porous border with lawless areas of neighboring Pakistan.
"The kidnapees were traveling from Want Waigal district of Nuristan to Kunar when ambushed by Taliban fighters," a resident of the district, Nasrullah, said.
In a dramatic move, he said the police, after successfully disarming the fighters, returned weapons back to them after a truce. But later, the police were ambushed and abducted when more Taliban fighters arrived at the scene, he said.
The Taliban divided the 50 detainees into small groups and kept them at various undisclosed locations, he added.
However, Akhtar Mohammad, former police chief of Want Waigal district, said 50 tribal leaders were mediating to secure the release.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the fighters seized the policemen on Saturday in Kandai area of the district after chasing them from Want Waigal district of Nuristan.
"The Taliban target police and make them hostages until they promise to quit jobs, he said, adding a Taliban Shura in the eastern zone would take a decision about the detainees.
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