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Hostages Plea For Release Through Prisoner Exchange With Afghan Taliban


FILE: Afghan students from the American University of Afghanistan wait for the start of classes at the beginning of a new term in Kabul in March.

The Afghan Taliban has released a video showing an American and an Australian hostage asking their governments to secure their release by negotiating a prisoner exchange with the Taliban.

Kevin King, a teacher at the American University in Kabul, and his Australian colleague, Timothy Weeks, were seized near the campus in August 2016.

The video, which King and Weeks said was made on June 16, showed the two men addressing the camera and asking for Taliban prisoners to be handed over in exchange for their freedom.

The video was distributed by the Taliban's main spokesman and circulated on social media on June 21.

It follows a similar video of the two men in January and comes as U.S. authorities are preparing their new strategy for Afghanistan, expected to include an increase of between 3,000-5,000 troops.

In September, the Pentagon said U.S. forces mounted a raid to try to rescue two hostages but the men were not at the location targeted.

Kidnapping has been a major problem in Afghanistan for many years. Most victims are Afghans and many kidnappers are criminal gangs seeking ransoms but a number of foreigners have also been abducted for political ends.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

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