March 29, 2007 / 9:06 PM / in 12 years

Taliban leader threatens to kill Afghan hostage

ROME (Reuters) - Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah threatened to kill an Afghan interpreter held hostage unless the Kabul government freed two Taliban prisoners, according to an interview broadcast on Italian television on Thursday.

Dadullah said President Hamid Karzai must negotiate with the Taliban for the release of interpreter Adjmal Nasqhbandi,just as the Italian government had negotiated the release of reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo, whom Adjmal worked for.

“We ask the Karzai government to release two of our prisoners,” Dadullah reportedly said in the interview with Sky Italia, which was broadcast in his native tongue with Italian subtitles.

“The Kabul government has got no option, it must negotiate with us for Adjmal. If this doesn’t happen ... then we will kill him.”

Dadullah taunted Karzai, saying he was a puppet in the hands of Western governments and should show he had the same concern for the fate of Adjmal as the Italian government had shown for Mastrogiacomo.

The Taliban freed the Italian reporter last week in exchange for the release of five Taliban prisoners who were held by the Afghan authorities, but they kept Adjmal captive. They had already killed Mastrogiacomo’s driver.

Romano Prodi’s administration drew criticism from several governments, including the United States and Britain, for coming to terms with the Taliban to secure the release of the Italian national.

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