Afghanistan: 11 Taliban released for 3 Indian engineers

KABUL, Afghanistan

At least 11 senior Taliban inmates, including two former shadow governors, were freed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in exchange for three Indian engineers, local media said on Monday.

The local Azadi Radio reported that among those Taliban members freed from the U.S. Bagram Airfield were shadow insurgent governors for the Kunar and Nimroz provinces, Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Maulvi Abdul Rashid Baloch, respectively.

No official acknowledgment of the swap has yet come from the Taliban, U.S. or Afghan government.

Zabehullah Shujah, spokesman for the local police in Baghlan province, told Anadolu Agency that as many as seven engineers working on an electricity supply project in northern Afghanistan were abducted by the Taliban.

”One Afghan and seven Indian engineers were abducted by the Taliban rebels led by their commander Qari Shaheen”, he said, though unable to confirm the report of their release.

According to the provincial administration, the engineers were associated with the Kamani Engineering Corporation (KEC), India’s second largest manufacturer of electric power transmission towers.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Nusrat Rahimi did not respond to Anadolu Agency’s queries about the report.

The fate of the remaining Indian engineers remains unclear.

Earlier this year, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the main power utility in Afghanistan, inked a multi-million dollar deal with KEC for a 220 Kilowatt electricity cable extension from Ghazni to Kandahar province.

Another senior Taliban figure, Anas Haqqani, remains in jail while the militants continue to keep two foreign professors of the American University of Afghanistan in custody.
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