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16 July 2009 

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Afghan Taliban Threatens to Kill Captured US Soldier

16 July 2009

A Taliban commander in southeastern Afghanistan said he will kill a captured U.S. soldier unless the U.S. military stops operations in two provinces.

Mawlavi Sangin said Thursday that the soldier is healthy but threatened to kill him if the U.S. military continues operations in Paktika and neighboring Ghazni province.

A U.S. military spokeswoman, Captain Elizabeth Mathias, said the military has distributed leaflets in the two provinces calling for the soldier's safe return.

One leaflet shows an American soldier sitting on the ground and shaking hands with Afghan children. It asks for the missing "American guest" to be returned home.

But another leaflet shows U.S. soldiers kicking in the door of a house and says: "If you do not release the U.S. soldier then you will be hunted."

U.S. officials said the soldier was captured late last month when he left his base camp in Paktika with three Afghans.

Meanwhile, the governor of Kandahar province said a suspected coalition airstrike killed six civilians and wounded at least 13 others. Afghan officials are investigating.

Separately, NATO officials said Afghan and coalition forces killed two insurgents in Kunar province and captured four others. The militants allegedly were responsible for roadside bomb attacks in the area.

In other news, a report from Britain's paramilitary defense committee said a helicopter shortage is hurting British operations in Afghanistan.

There are some 30 helicopters for Britain's 9,000 troops in Afghanistan's violent southern Taliban stronghold of Helmand province.

The report said a larger fleet would allow soldiers to travel by air, instead of on the ground, where they are exposed to roadside bombs. Fifteen British soldiers have been killed this month, many by roadside bombs planted by Taliban insurgents.

Media outlets reported Thursday that Britain's top army commander was forced to fly in an American helicopter when he visited the front lines in Helmand because British forces could not spare one.

British Prime Minister Gordon has repeatedly said that British forces have the resources and equipment they need.



Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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