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Afghanistan: Taleban Demands Release of Prisoners in Exchange for Hostages

A militant in southern Afghanistan has demanded the release of Taleban prisoners in exchange for four Afghan health workers and their driver who were kidnapped Tuesday in Kandahar province.

A man who claimed to be a local Taleban commander called news agencies Thursday, saying the kidnappers are demanding the release of Taleban prisoners in exchange for the five hostages. He said the medics and their driver were safe.

The demand comes more than a week after the Afghan government released five Taleban prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist who was abducted and held for two weeks.

The United States strongly criticized the deal, saying that agreeing to the demands of extremists only encourages more kidnappings and violence.

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