US soldiers kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan: Are they both still alive?
Conflicting reports have emerged over whether one of the two soldiers kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Friday was killed in an ambush. The US is offering $20,000 for information leading to their safe return.
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The capture comes after the deadliest month for coalition forces in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001: 102 soldiers were killed in June, and 75 have died in July. Two separate incidents left five more US soldiers dead Saturday.
The Associated Press reports that Abdul Wali, head of the provincial governing council in Logar, said that Taliban militants had captured one soldier and killed the other in an ambush. They offered to trade the body of one US soldier for Taliban fighters in prison. The militants apparently made the offer to local Afghan officials. Mr. Wali said the officials responded by saying, "Let's talk about the one that is still alive,” and the insurgents had to consult with superiors before making a deal, the AP reports.
The BBC reports that a local official said both men were alive, and that local elders were negotiating for their release. The US has broadcast radio messages offering $20,000 for information leading to their safe return.
The AP also reports that the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said he did not know if Taliban had captured US soldiers, and was holding off on claiming responsibility until he had obtained more information.
The disconnect highlights the nature of the insurgency, which is often a loose connection of different militant networks, as this Monitor briefing on the Taliban explained.
Bloomberg quotes a senior Taliban commander who said in a telephone interview that the two were captured by the Taliban. The Los Angeles Times joins the AP in reporting that Taliban fighters have claimed to have killed one soldier and are holding the other.