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American doctor, 3 Afghans rescued from Taliban in Afghanistan

December 09, 2012|By David Zucchino and Hashmat Baktash

Kabul – American and Afghan military forces rescued an American doctor early Sunday who had been kidnapped by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, military authorities announced.

The doctor, identified as Dilip Joseph, an American citizen working for a nonprofit based in Colorado, was rescued along with two Afghan doctors and an Afghan driver, according to international forces and local Afghan officials.

The doctors and driver were abducted by gunmen Wednesday afternoon after they had visited a rural clinic in the village of Jad Dalak in the Sorobi district of Kabul province, east of the capital, said Hazrat Mohammed Haqbin, the district governor.

The captives were moved to the Qarghaee district of neighboring Laghman province, according to Sayed Jan, health director of the Sorobi district. Naqibullah Khan, the Sorobi chief of police, said U.S. special operations forces and Afghan police and military launched a rescue operation after receiving information that the captives were likely to be harmed.

The kidnappers had demanded $100,000 for the captives’ safe return, Jan said.  Afghan police managed to capture the insurgents’ commander, Shah Gul, who told them the captives’ location, according to Jan.    

During the operation, American and Afghan forces killed six insurgents and detained two kidnappers in addition to Gul, Jan said.

Joseph is a medical advisor for Morningstar Development, an American nonprofit, according to Sorobi health officials. A statement from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Joseph was undergoing a medical evaluation Sunday.

The Sorobi district lies along the main paved highway linking Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad. The road is considered relatively safe, at least during daylight hours. It is patrolled by Afghan police and soldiers from Afghanistan’s 201stCorps, with checkpoints set up at regular intervals.

The kidnapping occurred on a rural road far from the main highway, local officials said. Kidnappings are common in Afghanistan, with both foreigners and wealthy Afghans targeted, usually with the intent of extorting large ransoms.

"Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban," Gen. John  R. Allen, the commander of ISAF forces, who approved the rescue operation, said in a statement. "I’m proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation. Thanks to them, Dr. Joseph will soon be joining his family and loved ones."

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