Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Friday, 25 December 2009

US condemns Taliban video of captive soldier


Pte Bergdahl is the only known American captive of the Taliban

The US has condemned a Taliban video of an American soldier captured by the militants in Afghanistan last June as an affront to his family at Christmas.

The man in the film, identifying himself as Private Bowe Robert Bergdahl, criticises the US over the Afghan war and relations with Muslims.

A Taliban spokesman then calls for the release of captured insurgents in exchange for the 23-year-old.

His parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, responded by appealing for his release.

The Western military alliance Nato confirmed that the man in the video - seen wearing sunglasses, a military helmet and uniform - was Pte Bergdahl.

It said he had clearly been forced to read a prepared statement. It is not clear when the video, released on Friday, was recorded.

We love you and we believe in you, stay strong
Bergdahl family statement

The airborne infantryman, originally from the US state of Idaho, spoke clearly and appeared healthy.

He was captured in Paktika province, a Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, on 30 June.

US Navy Rear Adm Gregory Smith said in a statement: "It reflects nothing more than the violent, deceitful tactics of the Taliban insurgency.

"To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl."

The Bergdahl family later issued a statement through the Idaho National Guard, urging the captors "to let our only son come home".

And to Pte Bergdahl, the family said: "We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong."

'Next Vietnam'

In the video, Pte Bergdahl gives his rank, date and place of birth, and deployment details.

"This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense," he says.

He adds: "You are not fighting a small group of terrorist guerrilla fighters.


"You are fighting an organised guerrilla army that has perfected guerrilla warfare better than any country has ever perfected it in history."

A statement read by a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appears at the end of the video and renews demands for a "limited number of prisoners" to be exchanged for Pte Bergdahl.

The insurgents also released a video of the American a few weeks after he was captured.

The Pentagon has said Pte Bergdahl was serving with an Alaska-based infantry regiment in Paktika province.

He vanished from his base, near the border with Pakistan, just five months after arriving in Afghanistan.

The military has been trying to locate him ever since, and a reward has been offered for his safe return.

He is believed to be the first soldier seized in either Iraq or Afghanistan for at least two years.

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