Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

US slams Taliban over hostage video

The US military has condemned the Taliban for a propaganda video showing a captured soldier pleading for American troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. The Pentagon named the private as Bowe Bergdahl, a 23-year-old from Idaho.

A 28-minute video of Mr Bergdahl was posted on the internet, showing the soldier in good health, but saying he was scared and missing his family. It is believed to be the first time in more than two years that a US serviceman has been captured in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

“We condemn the use of this video and the public humiliation of prisoners. It is against international law,” a US military spokesman said. “We are doing everything we can to return this soldier to safety.”

The Afghanistan Taliban said the video dated from July 14, although it was impossible to verify the date.

The military in Afghanistan has been distributing leaflets calling for the return of Mr Bergdahl, who said he was picked up by the Taliban after falling behind while on patrol. Last week, Mawlavi Sangin, a Taliban commander in Paktika province, the south-eastern area where the soldier went missing on 30 June, said his men were holding the soldier and would kill him if the military applied pressure to find him.

Afghani troops and US soldiers have been searching for Mr Bergdahl for two weeks, offering a reward for help.

“I am scared. I'm scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner,” Mr Bergdahl says in the video. He is dressed in loose Afghan clothing, appearing with a shaved head and a light beard, drinking tea and eating, but he is clearly being directed in what to say.

He added: “I have my girlfriend who is hoping to marry.”

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