KABUL, Afghanistan — An American doctor kidnapped by the Taliban was rescued Sunday by Afghan and coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, officials said. At least six people were killed, including a member of a U.S. special forces Navy SEAL team. Two Taliban leaders were arrested during the rescue.
On Monday, Department of Defense officials identified the member of the elite team as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa. A highly-decorated combat veteran, he was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit, officials said.
The American physician rescued on Sunday, Dr. Dilip Joseph, was abducted along with two Afghan men on Wednesday while driving to a rural medical clinic in the Sorobi district of eastern Afghanistan, about an hour outside the capital, Kabul, according to the district police chief, Naqeebullah Khan.
From there, the kidnapped men were taken to a mountainous area about 50 miles from the border with Pakistan, according to a statement from the American nonprofit organization that employed the men, Morning Star Development. After days of negotiations, the two Afghan employees were released Saturday. But Dr. Joseph remained in the hands of his Taliban captors.
Kidnappings of government officials and Westerners are a common source of money for criminal organizations as well as the Taliban. In many cases, people kidnapped by the Taliban are taken across the border to Pakistan, where it becomes extremely difficult to track them.
Having received intelligence that the doctor was in imminent danger, American and Afghan forces mounted a rescue attempt, the coalition forces said in a statement. The doctor was unhurt in the raid.
“Today’s mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban,” said Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, who ordered the mission.
Dr. Joseph, who lives in Colorado Springs, has frequently traveled to Afghanistan, according to the organization’s statement.
The abductions occurred about 25 miles from a stretch of highway heading east from the capital toward Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The highway itself is considered safe during the day, but travel is much more dangerous in the areas off the main road.
Kidnappings are frequent occurrences in the area, and the Taliban is active there, despite international efforts to control the violence. In the case of Dr. Joseph, the kidnappers were believed to have been demanding a $100,000 ransom, said Dr. Said Jan, the director of the public health clinic in Sorobi, where Dr. Joseph was seized.