• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 39s

Taliban calls off talks over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

By CBS News/Associated Press 7:50 AM February 24, 2014

The U.S. State Department has refused to acknowledge the negotiations.

ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan’s Taliban said Sunday they had suspended “mediation” with the United States to exchange captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, halting – at least temporarily – what was considered the best chance yet of securing the 27-year-old soldier’s freedom since his capture in 2009.

In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid blamed the “current complex political situation in the country” for the suspension.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the talks said the cause of the suspension was not the result of any issue between the United States and Taliban. He declined to elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban attacked several Afghan army outposts in eastern Kunar province near Pakistan on Sunday early morning killing 21 Afghan soldiers, wounding two and capturing six more, reports CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar.

Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said reinforcements have been dispatched and an operation is underway in the area to free the captive soldiers.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and used the occasion to call into question Pakistan`s real intention in fighting terrorism, Mukhtar reports. Karzai was supposed to leave the country on Sunday for two days official trip to Sri Lanka, but postponed his trip due to the attack.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was last seen in a video released in December, footage seen as “proof of life” demanded by the U.S. Bergdahl is believed to be held in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mujahid said the indirect talks with the U.S. had been mediated by Qatar, where the Taliban established a political office last June. The video of Bergdahl was part of the negotiations which were to lead to the eventual transfer of the five Taliban leaders held since 2002 in Guantanamo Bay.

“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the process for some time due to the current complex political situation in the country,” the statement read. “The process will remain suspended without the exchange of the prisoners until our decision to resume.”

Mujahed did not elaborate on what “political situation” in Afghanistan led to the suspension of talks or say when they might resume. Afghanistan is in the middle of a presidential campaign ahead of an April 5 election. Two-term President Hamid Karzai cannot run again for office under the Afghan constitution.

The U.S. State Department has refused to acknowledge the negotiations, but the U.S. official previously told the AP that indirect talks were underway.

In response to the Taliban statement Sunday, U.S. Embassy spokesman in Afghanistan Robert Hilton said: “Sgt. Bergdahl has been gone far too long, however we can’t discuss the efforts we’re taking to obtain his return.”

Efforts at a swap are also seen as a concession to Karzai. Washington would like to see him back away from his refusal to sign a security pact that is necessary for the U.S. to leave a residual force behind in Afghanistan. Karzai says he wants Washington to push reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban forward, without offering specifics.

The five Taliban detainees at the heart of the proposal are the most senior Afghans still held at the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. Each has been held since 2002.

They include:

  • Mohammad Fazl, whom Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate their control over the country.
  • Abdul Haq Wasiq, who served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence and was in direct contact with supreme leader Mullah Omar as well as other senior Taliban figures, according to military documents. Under Wasiq, there were widespread accounts of killings, torture and mistreatment.
  • Mullah Norullah Nori, who was a senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif when the Taliban fought U.S. forces in late 2001. He previously served as a Taliban governor in two northern provinces, where he has been accused of ordering the massacre of thousands of Shiites.
  • Khairullah Khairkhwa, who served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and as a military commander and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. military documents. His U.S. lawyers have argued that his affiliation with the Taliban was a matter of circumstance, rather than ideology, and that he had backed away from them by the time of his capture. His lawyers also have argued that he was merely a civil servant and had no military role, though a judge said there was enough evidence to justify holding him at Guantanamo. His lawyers have appealed.
  • Mohammed Nabi, who served as chief of security for the Taliban in Qalat, Afghanistan, and later worked as a radio operator for the Taliban’s communications office in Kabul and as an office manager in the border department, according to U.S. military documents. In the spring of 2002, he told interrogators that he received about $500 from a CIA operative as part of the unsuccessful effort to track down Mullah Omar. When that didn’t pan out, he says he ended up helping the agency locate al-Qaida members.
© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

  • News

    AGDC president on AKLNG project: ‘Project is not moving forward’

    by Alexis Fernandez on Jun 29, 21:53

    The state of Alaska may soon be making some serious changes to the proposed Alaska liquefied natural gas pipeline plan, known as AKLNG. On Wednesday, Kevin Meyer, the new head of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), gave an update to a House and Senate resources panel on the latest progress. Meyer told lawmakers the […]

  • Politics

    Education commissioner on Walker’s vetoes: Districts will bear burden of cuts

    by Eric Ruble on Jun 29, 20:54

    A reduction in education funding of more than $58 million could mean difficult decisions for Alaska schools during the coming months. The cuts come as part of Gov. Bill Walker’s $1.29 billion vetoes, announced Wednesday. “We’ve had multiple years of these cuts, and I think people are starting to worry,” said Aaron Poe, a member […]

  • News

    Fireworks shows get OK from Anchorage fire chief

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jun 29, 19:47

    The Anchorage Fire Department has given the green light for two fireworks shows on the Fourth of July. One will be held at Mulcahy Stadium in Anchorage, the other at Eagle River Lions Club Community Park in Eagle River. Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc said residents need to remember that fireworks are still illegal in Anchorage […]

  • Lifestyle

    FDA questions effectiveness of popular hand sanitizers

    by Associated Press on Jun 29, 19:02

    Federal health officials want to know whether hand sanitizers used by millions of Americans work as well as manufacturers claim — and whether there are any health risks to their growing use. The Food and Drug Administration is asking for new studies on how the antiseptic gels and rubs fight germs and get absorbed into the body, […]

  • News

    AWWU announces intersection closure for water main repairs

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 18:45

    The intersection of Tudor Road and Old Seward Highway will be closed from Friday night until early Wednesday morning, the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) announced. The closure will begin at 8 p.m. Friday to allow AWWU personnel to make repairs to a water main that was damaged in May. Alaska Road Boring Company was […]

  • Crime

    Charging documents show woman found in car was tortured, shot before being killed

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 17:17

    A late night DUI crash turned into a homicide investigation after police found a dead woman in the back of a vehicle Monday night. Charging documents against the driver, 34-year-old Benjamin Wilkins, revealed the woman had been severely injured and killed prior to the crash. Wilkins was detained on suspicion of intoxication after failing field sobriety […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaskans: Be bear aware with fish waste

    by Megan Edge on Jun 29, 13:50

    Fishermen, watch where you waste. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking you to dispose of any leftover fish parts and pieces in the appropriate areas. Tossing waste in the wrong places can be dangerous for bears and humans, plus it could lead to a fine. “It’s fishing season and folks need to […]

  • Crime

    3 teens arrested in kidnapping, robbery case

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 29, 13:50

    Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department have filed charges against a group of teenagers after an alleged kidnapping, robbery and assault early Wednesday morning. Around 4 a.m., the three teens – 19-year-old Damien Peterson, 18-year-old Austin Barrett and 17-year-old Devin Peterson, all of Wasilla — allegedly assaulted an Eagle River man at a home on […]