US soldier freed in Afghanistan, 5 Taliban prisoners leave Guantanamo


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The last US prisoner of war from America’s waning Afgan war, was handed over to US Special Operations forces in Afghanistan yesterday in a dramatic swap for five Taliban detainees who will be handed over from Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar.

Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been held for nearly five years by Afghan militants and his release followed years of on-off negotiations.

President Barack Obama announced the release, saying he had called Bergdahl’s parents to let them know.

US special forces took custody of Bergdahl in a non-violent exchange with 18 Taliban members in eastern Afghanistan, senior US officials said, adding that he was believed to be in good condition. He       was now undergoing a medical examination in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl, 28, was handed over at about 6 pm local time yesterday, which was at 10.30 am Washington time, a senior official said. The US forces, who had flown in by helicopter, were on the ground only briefly, said the officials, who would not specify the precise location of the handover.

A US defence official said Bergdahl was able to walk and became emotional on his way to freedom.

“Once the was on the helicopter, he wrote on a paper plate, ‘SF?’” the official said, referring to the abbreviation for special forces.

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