Protestors want rebel commander freed in exchange for captive soldiers
Four months ago, the Taliban took 13 soldiers hostage after their helicopter made an emergency landing in the Ghar Tapa locality of the Pashtoonkot district of Faryab province. The pilot and six security officials were killed on the spot.
A dozen soldiers are still in Taliban’s captivity and there been no clue so far to the location where they are being held. The soldiers’ continued captivity has been fuelling concerns among their families.
About 100 relatives of the missing soldiers gathered in the Shahr-i-Naw Park, chanting against what they called the government’s failure to secure the release of their loved ones.
Alim Muradi,a relative of one of the captive soldiers, said the security officialswere taken hostage in the line of duty by the Taliban. But the government had not taken any step for their release, he alleged.
He accused the president and his chief executive of protecting themselves behind blast walls, travelling in armored vehicles and showing no concernfor the safety of the security personnel.
Taj Mohammad, a resident of eastern Kunar province, said: “My son Zar Mohammad is among the captive troops. I don’t have any information about his fate so far.”
Jamshed Habibi, former provincial council head whose relative is also among the captives, blamed the government’s unconcern for the soldiers.
The protestors claimed the Taliban wanted the release of their key leader Salahuddin Ayubi, a shadow governor who was captured by security forces and was still in detention.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said the captive soldiers were being kept in a safe place and the group had not presented any condition for their release.
But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) insisted it had been striving to pave the way for their release. Brig. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, MoD’s deputy spokesman, said it was the ministry’s responsibility to make possible the release of the soldiers.
He added the ministry did not want a single soldier to be in insurgents’ captivity. In the past, he recalled, the some soldiers held by the Taliban had been freed as a result of MoD efforts.
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