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Taliban Threaten To Execute More Afghan Hostages


April 9, 2007 -- A purported spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan says its fighters will kill four captured Afghan medical personnel and their driver unless the government releases two Taliban commanders.

The spokesman, Shahabuddin Attal, who claims to speak for senior Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, says the five prisoners were kidnapped in Kandahar Province in late March.

The threat comes one day after the Taliban announced that they had beheaded Ajmal Naqshbandi, an Afghan translator seized along with an Italian reporter and his driver in early March. The driver was reportedly beheaded by the captors.

President Hamid Karzai today condemned Naqshbandi's killing as the work of "enemies of Afghanistan," while more than 100 Afghan journalists protested the killing in the capital, Kabul. The reporters held pictures of Naqshbandi and signs with slogans including "Free Afghan media will not be killed."

The Afghan central government's decision to swap several Taliban prisoners in exchange for the freedom of the Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, prompted surprise among some governments currently involved in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

Also on April 8, six Canadian soldiers serving with the NATO-led force in southern Afghanistan were killed by a bomb, while a seventh NATO soldier has died in a separate incident in Afghanistan.



Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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