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Taleban Claims Commander's Body Swapped for Afghan Hostages

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Taleban says the body of top commander Mullah Dadullah has been handed over to the insurgents in exchange for the release of four Afghan hostages.

The purported spokesman, Shuhabuddin Athul, says relatives of Mullah Dadullah received his body early Thursday. He says the Taleban then freed four members of an Afghan medical team and turned over the body of a fifth medical worker.

On Tuesday, the Taleban said that one of the five hostages was killed because authorities had not handed over Dadullah's body on time.

Mullah Dadullah was one of the Taleban's most brutal commanders, linked to a string of bombings, beheadings and kidnappings in Afghanistan. He was killed last month while fighting U.S.-led troops in Helmand province.

In another development, at least five people have been arrested in connection with the murder of a female Afghan journalist earlier this week in Parwan province.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says Afghan and international forces have killed or wounded 30 Taleban militants in fighting since Wednesday.

And elsewhere in Nangahar province, the U.S.-led coalition says troops killed a militant in a raid on a suspected al-Qaida hideout. It says the troops also detained three men and seized weapons.

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