| GEO World|
| Taliban threaten to kill captured US soldier|
| Updated at: 0622 PST, Friday, July 17, 2009|
KABUL: Local Taliban commanders threatened Thursday to kill a captured American soldier unless the U.S. military stops operations in two districts of southeastern Afghanistan.
Also Thursday, Canadian authorities announced that a Canadian soldier was killed southwest of Kandahar, bringing to 47 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month. That makes July the deadliest month of the war for foreign troops — with nearly half the month to go.
The Taliban claimed last week to be holding the American soldier, whom the U.S. military earlier described as possibly being in enemy hands.
Abdullah Jalali, a spokesman for Taliban commander Mawlavi Sangin, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that the soldier was healthy.
He said the soldier would be killed unless the U.S. stops airstrikes in Ghazni province's Giro district and Paktika province's Khoshamand district. Jalali did not explain why the Taliban chose those areas, noting only that Giro has been heavily bombed.
Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias declined to comment on the demands but did say recent operations in Giro district this month did not involve bombings.
Neither district is in Helmand province, where Marines are conducting the largest U.S. military operation in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001.
Jalali said the final decision about the soldier's fate will be made by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.