Kabul: The Afghan Taliban said it has freed three Indian engineers held hostage for over a year in an exchange for securing the release of 11 of its members, including some high-ranking officials of the militant group. The freed Afghan Taliban includes prominent leaders Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Maulvi Abdur Rashid as per a PTI report.

The militant group has not disclosed identities of the released hostages and the news is yet to be confirmed by the Afghan authorities. The prisoner swap was done in the early hours of Sunday (October 6, 2019) at an undisclosed location, two Taliban officials were quoted as saying to The Express Tribune.

The Indian government, meanwhile, has not been notified of the release of Indian engineers but government sources maintain that they are in touch with the Afghanistan government as reports of the release have brought to their notice.

Seven Indian engineers working for a power plant in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan Province were kidnapped in May 2018. The kidnapping took place when the Indian engineers were travelling to a government-run power station, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), in Bagh-e-Shamal area. The Indians reportedly worked for Indian company KEC International Limited and were were working on a project for the construction of a power sub-station.

Many of the earlier abductions in the war-torn country have been linked to Taliban. In 2016, 40-year-old Indian aid worker Judith D’Souza was kidnapped in Kabul. She was released after 40 days. India has provided at least USD 2 billion aid to Afghanistan for the economic development of the war-torn nation