Eleven hostages were released on Monday after being held for 48 hours by Taliban kidnappers in northern Baghlan province.
The Taliban insurgents abducted the civilians on Saturday when they stopped a passenger vehicle in the Dandi Ghore area of Pol-e-Khomre, the capital of Baghlan province.
The freed hostages reported that they were released in exchange for the Taliban’s commander in Baghlan province who had been in the custody of authorities, claims that have been corroborated by Baghlan Provincial Council members.
“Two cars stopped us and took us to a mosque and they [the kidnapers] told us ‘one of our men was arrested by your men so we kidnapped you,'” one of the freed hostages named Haji Mullah Juma said.
The exchange deal was said to have been brokered by local tribal elders, which was also the case for 19 of the 31 bus passangers kidnapped by militants in Zabul province earlier this year, who were freed following negotiations between tribal leaders and the abductors.
“The Taliban kept us in a mosque and they did not say anything to us about who would release us, and after that, with the help of tribal elders, we were released,” another one of the men freed on Monday told TOLOnews.
The Baghlan Provincial Council has confirmed the release and said the swap involved the freeing of a Taliban commander named Moman.
“These men were released in exchange for a Taliban local commander and this raises concerns among Baghlan residents,” Provincial Council member Bismillah Attash said.
As is often the case when it comes to prisoner swaps, some commentators have raised questions about whether or not submitting to the demands of kidnappers could have a slippery-slope effect, thereby encouraging further abductions.
“These 11 people were released in exchange for a Taliban commander called Mullah Moman, and if this process continues will create trouble for the residents and cases of kidnapping will increase,” Provincial Council member Noor Zia Aimaq said.
However, Baghlan Police Chief, Gen. Abdul Jabar Pordili, has denied that and exchange took place with the Taliban. “There was no deal at all and there was no Talib to be exchanged with those men,” he said on Monday.