For One US Soldier, Five Taliban Leaders Freed
By IANS | Published: 01st June 2014 07:18 PM |
WASHINGTON: A US soldier seized by the Taliban nearly five years ago in Afghanistan has been released after five Taliban leaders held in Guantanamo Bay were let off, US and Taliban officials said.
The Taliban prisoners were released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and handed over to Qatar, which mediated the transfer.
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed over to US forces in good health, BBC quoted American officials as saying. He was the only US soldier held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Officials said the Taliban handed him over Saturday evening.
The Taliban, in a statement posted on its official web site, Sunday confirmed the swap.
It identified the five "key leaders" as Mullah Mohammad Fazil Akhund, Mullah Nurullah Nuri, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mawlawi Mohammad Nabi.
The five were arrested by the US in 2001 after ousting the militant regime in Afghanistan.
"Offering sacrifices by Mujahideen and the indirect talks between the US and Taliban mediated by Qatar finally led to the release of the five," the statement added.
US President Barack Obama said earlier: "On behalf of the American people, I was honoured to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return.
"Sergeant Bergdahl's recovery is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield."
Bergdahl, captured in Afghanistan June 30, 2009, is now under the care of the US military, Xinhua quoted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as saying.
As part of Bergdahl's release, the US agreed to turn over the five Taliban detainees to the custody of Qatar.