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U.S. military canine ‘in Afghan Taliban custody’

This video frame grab taken from a pro-Taliban website on February 6, 2014, shows an alleged US military service dog being held on a leash by alleged Taliban insurgents at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. The Taliban say they have captured a dog belonging to the US military following a raid in eastern Afghanistan late last year. A video posted on the insurgents' website on February 6 and later on Facebook shows the animal, named by the Taliban as "Colonel", being held on a leash in a smal

KABUL: The Taliban say they have captured a dog belonging to the U.S. military following a raid in eastern Afghanistan late last year.A video posted on the insurgents’ website Wednesday and later on Facebook shows the animal, named by the Taliban as “Colonel,” being held on a leash in a small, well-lit courtyard surrounded by five men holding guns and grenades.

Wearing a black vest with pouches for equipment, the dark brown canine wags its tail and later perks up its ears as the militants begin chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).

The video’s narrator says three guns, one pistol and other equipment including a GPS and a torch were seized from the dog, which was captured after a U.S. operation in Alingar, a volatile district in Afghanistan’s Laghman province.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said they were aware of the reports, but declined to comment.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP Thursday:

“The Americans conducted an operation on the positions of Mujahedeen in Alingar district [of Laghman province].

“The Mujahedeen put up fierce resistance and repelled the attack ... The Mujahedeen seized some weapons and also a dog which we later learnt the Americans called ‘Colonel,’” Mujahid said.

The Taliban spokesman said that “Colonel” is alive and well, adding his fate would be determined later.

Hundreds of canines have been deployed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan for tasks such as seeking out improvised explosive devices responsible for the vast majority of both military and civilian casualties in the war-torn country.

The bravest among them are awarded medals and wounded animals are airlifted from the front line to be taken for treatment.

Dogs are seen as unclean creatures by some Muslims and viewed with suspicion by the Taliban.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 07, 2014, on page 10.

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