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An American solider held by Afghan insurgents for nearly five years has been freed in exchange for five Taliban fighters, the United States said on Saturday.
The soldier, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was handed over to American forces in Afghanistan by a group of 18 Taliban fighters, according to report in US media.
“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” said President Barack Obama in a statement.
The five Taliban released by the United States were being handed over Qatar, which brokered the deal, and whose role was acknowledged and praised by President Obama.
Sergeant Bergdahl, was captured in June, 2009, is believed to have been held by the Haqqani network. The circumstances of his capture, however, remain unclear.
“The United States government never forgot Sgt. Bergdahl, nor did we stop working to bring him back,” said defense secretary Chuck Hagel in a statement.
The United States wind up it combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of this year. It will leave behind a small force of 9,800 troops, however, if Afghanistan agrees.