Three Indian engineers allegedly held hostage by the Afghan Taliban terror group for over a year have been freed, media reports said on Monday (October 7).
News agency PTI quoted The Express Tribune as saying that the Indian hostages were freed on Sunday in exchange for securing the release of 11 of its members, including some high-ranking officials of the militant group.
However, the location of the prisoner swap was not disclosed. Taliban officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing what they described as the sensitive nature of the issue, the paper cited a RFE/RL report. They also refused to specify whether the freed Taliban members were being held by the US forces in Afghanistan or the Afghan authorities, reported PTI.
The officials didn’t identify who the prisoners were exchanged with. However, they identified two of the freed Taliban leaders as Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Mawlawi Abdur Rashid. Rahim and Rashid had served as the insurgent groups’ 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. However, neither the Afghan nor the Indian authorities have commented on the issue so far.
Seven Indian engineers working for a power plant in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan Province were kidnapped in May 2018. No group had claimed responsibility for their abduction. One of the hostages was released in March, but the fate of the others remains unknown.
(With inputs from agencies)