British soldier missing in southern Afghanistan
A British servicemember is missing in southern Afghanistan, the nation’s Ministry of Defence confirmed Monday.
The servicemember has been listed as duty status whereabouts unknown, according to a Monday news release from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.
There is an active search effort in progress.
A spokesman for the Taliban told Reuters that the militant group had captured the soldier on Sunday and had executed him in the Babaji area of southern Helmand.
“The soldier was captured yesterday evening during a firefight. When the fighting got more intense we couldn’t keep him so we had to kill him,” Qari Mohammad Yousuf said by telephone from an undisclosed location. Reuters reported it could not independently verify the Taliban claim and the hardline Islamists often exaggerate battlefield exploits.
An ISAF spokesman declined to comment on the Taliban claim, though told Stars and Stripes the servicemember went missing on Monday, not Sunday.
NATO says the coalition has no reports of a gunbattle in Babaji on Monday, The Associated Press reported.
Most of the troops in southern Afghanistan are American and British, however, soldiers from other countries also operate in the south.
Only one soldier from the foreign contingent in Afghanistan is believed in captivity. Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.
Bergdahl was with 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. His disappearance set off an intense, weekslong manhunt that canceled or diverted other military missions and resources to search for him in southeast Afghanistan and along the border with Pakistan.
Officials suspect militants might be holding Bergdahl in Pakistan.
From staff reports