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Taliban release footage of Bergdahl handover

The Taliban have released footage of the moments of their handover of US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to US forces after his five years in captivity.

The video posted on Wednesday, which cannot be independently verified, apparently shows Taliban fighters walking Bergdahl towards a US military helicopter while holding a white flag.

A group of men, believed to be US special forces, then take Bergdahl back to the helicopter after briefly exchanging handshakes with the Taliban fighters.

Bergdahl, the only US soldier held by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan, was freed on Saturday in exchange for five senior Taliban members detained at Guantanamo Bay in a deal brokered by Qatar.

His release has evoked sharp criticism from some US politicians, who fear they could return to the battlefield and pose a threat to Americans abroad.

The Taliban video, entitled “Ceremony of the American soldier exchange”, at one point also displays the words “Don’t Come Back to Afghanistan” superimposed over footage of Bergdahl.

A male voiceover in the video, laced with religious music and chants of “Allahu Akbar,” said the exchange occurred in the eastern Afghan province of Khost.

“The Americans contacted us and asked us where was a good place to meet. We contacted tribal elders to come and join us, because we do not trust them [Americans],” the voiceover said, the AFP news agency reported.

US defence officials have said dozens of US special forces troops backed up by helicopters were sent for the handover.

“Fortunately, no shots were fired,” Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday. “There was no violence. It went as well as we not only had expected and planned, but I think as well as it could have.”

Bergdahl is now being treated at a US military facility in Germany.

The US military’s top officer General Martin Dempsey said on Tuesday that Bergdahl may be disciplined if the army holds him guilty of misconduct, after claims from members of his unit that he had been captured in 2009 after abandoning his post.

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(via Al Jazeera)