Afghanistan: December 23, 2003


Two Indian engineers who had been kidnapped three weeks ago have been freed. The engineers were working on road reconstruction and it was thought that the kidnapping was another Taliban effort to halt the road work (and reconstruction in general.) The Taliban actually took credit for the kidnapping, and demanded that 55 jailed Taliban be freed. It turned out that the Indians were kidnapped by two local tribesmen, who wanted to use the Indians to get some friends freed from jail. A Turkish engineer was kidnapped in a separate incident, and after he was freed, two Taliban prisoners were let go as well. The government negotiated with local elders and tribal leaders to get the Indians and the Turk freed. This is how things work in Afghanistan. You could have sent troops (American or Afghan) out to find the kidnapped men, but the chances of success would have been low. In addition to several dozen local villages the captives could have been in, there are hundreds of caves used by the locals. It's much easier to send in negotiators and play "let's make a deal."


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