US military canine 'in Afghan Taliban custody'

Feb 07, 2014, 09:47 IST | Agencies

The Taliban say they have captured a dog belonging to the US military following a raid in eastern Afghanistan late last year 

Kabul: The Taliban say they have captured a dog belonging to the US military following a raid in eastern Afghanistan late last year.

This video frame grab taken from a pro-Taliban website on February 6, 2014, shows an alleged military service dog being held on a leash by alleged Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/TALIBAN IN

A video posted on the insurgents' website yesterday 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 "Allah hu 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 US operation in Alingar, a volatile district in Afghanistan's Laghman province.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP today: "The Americans conducted an operation on the positions of Mujahideen in Alingar district (of Laghman province).

"The Mujahideen put up fierce resistance and repelled the attack...The Mujahideen seized some weapons and also a dog which we later learnt the Americans called 'Colonel'."

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

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul confirmed that a military dog had gone missing.

"We can confirm that a military working dog went missing following an ISAF mission in December, 2013. It is ISAF policy to defer identification to the appropriate national authorities," the ISAF spokesman said.

"Military working dogs are used for several purposes, primarily for explosives or drug detection," he said.

Hundreds of canines have been deployed by US forces in Afghanistan for tasks such as seeking out improvised explosive devices (IED) 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.

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