2 more kidnapped Indian engineers freed in Afghanistan, 6 released so far
It was widely believed that the seven Indian engineers – who worked for KEC International Limited – were kidnapped by the Taliban. The militant group, however, hasn’t so far said anything on this issue.Updated: Aug 04, 2020 17:59 IST
India said on Tuesday two more of the seven Indian engineers kidnapped in Afghanistan in May 2018 had been freed and had returned to the country, taking the number of men released so far to six.
The external affairs ministry said in a brief statement the two Indian nationals were “released from captivity in Afghanistan” on July 31 and “returned to India today [Tuesday]”.
The statement confirmed the two men were part of the group of seven Indians abducted more than two years ago, but didn’t give details of the circumstances of their release. “Six Indian nationals have now been released so far from captivity,” the statement said.
“We thank the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for their constant and unwavering support in securing the release of the Indians,” the statement added.
The seven men were working on power projects run by the Afghan government when they were abducted in northern Baghlan province. One of them was freed in March 2019 while three more were released last October. There were no immediate details on the status of the lone member of the group who remained unaccounted for.
It was widely believed the engineers – who worked for KEC International Limited, one of the world’s largest companies engaged in building and maintaining power transmission networks – were kidnapped by the Taliban. The militant group, however, hasn’t so far said anything on this issue.
Earlier this year, a report from the UN Security Council’s analytical support and sanctions monitoring team had acknowledged that three of the engineers were freed last October by the Taliban in exchange for 11 members of the militant group,.
The report had said that “11 Taliban were released from Bagram Airfield detention facility in exchange for three Indian engineers who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan”.
The Taliban members who were released “included former shadow governors Sheikh Abdul Rahim…and Mawlawi Rashid Baluch”. Rahim is believed to have been appointed by the Haqqani Network, which is close to the Pakistani security establishment. Baluch was sanctioned in 2015 by the US treasury department, which emphasised his role in “the Taliban and Al-Qaida nexus”, the report said.