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President Donald Trump has ruled out a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that the move would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill.

Donald Trump said his original instinct was to pull US forces out, but had instead decided to stay and “fight to win” to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq.

The president said he wanted to shift from a time-based approach in Afghanistan to one based on conditions on the ground, adding he would not set deadlines.

However, President Trump warned it was not a “blank cheque” for Afghanistan.

He said: “America will work with the Afghan government, so long as we see commitment and progress.”

The Taliban responded by saying that Afghanistan would become “another graveyard” for the US if it did not withdraw its troops.

President Trump has committed to stepping up the US military’s engagement in Afghanistan, but details were few and far between.

The president said his new approach would be more pragmatic than idealistic, and would switch from nation building to “killing terrorists”.

However, Donald Trump refused to get drawn on how many extra troops, if any, would be deployed and gave no timeline for ending the US presence in Afghanistan.

Washington is expected to send up to 4,000 additional troops, but President Trump did not comment on this.

He did, however, put pressure on neighboring Pakistan, warning that the US would no longer tolerate it offering “safe havens” to extremists – an accusation swiftly dismissed by a Pakistani army spokesman.

Image source Wikipedia

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President Trump also, for the first time, left the door open for an eventual peace deal with the Taliban, saying: “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

However, he said there would be an escalation in the battle against groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“[They] need to know they have nowhere to hide – that no place is beyond the reach of American arms,” President Trump said.

Meanwhile, he made it clear he expects his existing allies – singling out India – to support him in his new strategy, and urged them to raise their countries’ contributions “in line with our own”.

Before his presidency, Donald Trump was not shy about criticizing his predecessors on their Afghanistan policy. He previously supported pulling US troops out of the conflict, which began under President George W. Bush in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.

In November 2013, he said: “We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!”

However, early on in his presidential campaign, he did acknowledge that US troops would have to stay in order to avoid the total collapse of the Afghan government.

This long-awaited announcement came after a months-long review, with the president himself acknowledging that his original instinct to pull-out had been reversed after discussions with national security advisers.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the plan, saying: “The US-Afghan partnership is stronger than ever in overcoming the threat of terrorism that threaten us all.”

He said the new strategy would enhance the training of Afghan security forces.


NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also praised the move and said the alliance, which has about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, would not allow the country to become “a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries”.

General John Nicholson, the head of both US and international forces in Afghanistan, said it “means the Taliban cannot win militarily”.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid dismissed President Trump’s strategy as “nothing new”, telling the US to think of an exit strategy “instead of continuing the war”.

US combat operations against the Taliban officially ended in 2014, more than 8,000 Special Forces continue to provide support to Afghan troops.

The Afghan government continues to battle insurgency groups and controls just half of the country.

At least 19 people were killed and 50 injured in a gun and bomb attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, north-west Pakistan.

Four suspected attackers were killed in a battle that lasted nearly three hours.

Security forces continued to secure the campus, checking classrooms and dormitories, amid fears more bodies would be found.

There are conflicting reports about whether the Taliban militants carried out the assault

The group killed 130 students at a school in the city of Peshawar, 30 miles from Charsadda, in 2014.

About 3,000 students are enrolled at Bacha Khan but hundreds of visitors were also expected on January 20 for a poetry event.Bacha Khan University attack

Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif said in a statement, quoted by Reuters news agency: “We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland.”

Attackers struck at around 09:30 local time, reportedly climbing over a back wall under cover of the thick winter fog.

Intense gunfire and explosions were heard as security guards fought the attackers.

Students and staff ran to find cover in toilets and examination halls.

Images from inside the university show a pool of blood on the floor of a dormitory and the charred corpses of two alleged militants lying on a staircase.

Nineteen bodies were taken to a local mortuary. It was not immediately clear if the attackers were among them.

A senior Taliban commander, Umar Mansoor, told media that the attack was in response to a military offensive against militant strongholds. He said four suicide attackers had carried out the attack.

The university is located in an open area some distance east of Charsadda town, surrounded by open agricultural fields.

Bacha Khan is a new university, founded in 2012, its website says.

Just days ago, some schools in Peshawar were closed by the authorities amid reports that militants were planning an attack.

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Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will face a general court-martial for desertion and other charges.

The US soldier was held for five years by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

General Robert Abrams overruled a previous recommendation that the case be moved to a lower court with a maximum penalty of 12 months of prison.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl now could be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty.

He was released in exchange for five Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2014.Bowe Bergdahl court martial

The 29-year-old gave the first public account of his story last week to the podcast Serial.

The podcast ran excerpts of an interview, in which Bowe Bergdahl claims that he left his base without permission in order to create a crisis and highlight poor leadership within his unit.

Bowe Bergdahl’s release, initially cheered by President Barack Obama and other officials, quickly became controversial when critics said it ran contrary to policy against negotiating with terrorists.

With news that the recommendation had been disregarded, his lawyer Eugene Fidell sent an email to reporters on behalf of the defense team saying he “had hoped the case would not go in this direction”.

In the same email, Eugene Fidell called upon leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to “cease his prejudicial months-long campaign of defamation against our client”. Donald Trump has in the past accused Bowe Bergdahl of treason.

Eugene Fidell also asked members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to “avoid any further statements or actions that prejudice our client’s right to a fair trial”.

Five Guantanamo detainees were swapped for the soldier, when Bowe Bergdahl was freed in May 2014. He had spent almost five years in Taliban captivity, after he walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee accused President Barack Obama of misleading them over the prisoner swap.

The charges were filed against Bowe Bergdahl in March, and his case was recommended for the lower court in October.

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Afghan Taliban fighters have reportedly attacked Kandahar airport.

It is not clear whether the clashes have resulted in casualties.

A spokesman for the provincial governor said the attackers had managed to breach the first gate of the complex.

A pro-Taliban website said the group had launched an attack “against domestic and foreign forces”.

Photo US Army

Photo US Army

Militant violence has increased across Afghanistan since the departure of most US and NATO forces in 2014.

“Several insurgents” had carried out the attack, the provincial governor’s spokesman Samim Khopalwaq told AFP.

Local authorities have reportedly deployed commandos to the area.

In recent months the Taliban have enjoyed a series of battlefield victories, including briefly capturing the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

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Afghan militant leader Jalaluddin Haqqani died at least a year ago, the BBC reported.

It appears the founder of the Haqqani network died after a long illness and was buried in Afghanistan.

Rumors about Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death have circulated for some years and can still not be independently confirmed.

The latest report comes a day after the Taliban acknowledged that its leader, Mullah Omar, was dead.

Reports of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s death, quoting Taliban sources, also appeared in Pakistani media on July 31. One senior Afghan official said he had died six years ago.

The network has never confirmed the death of its founder.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

However, a man linked to the family denied reports, telling the BBC that Jalaluddin Haqqani was still alive but ill.

The Haqqani network – based in the tribal regions of Pakistan with links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban – has been behind many of the co-ordinated attacks on Afghan and NATO forces in recent years.

Jalaluddin Haqqani’s son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has long been thought to be in de facto control of the group and has just been announced as a deputy leader of the Taliban.

Jalaluddin Haqqani was an Afghan guerrilla leader who fought Soviet troops that occupied Afghanistan in 1980s.

US officials have admitted that at the time Jalaluddin Haqqani was a prized asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

However, Jalaluddin Haqqani later allied himself to the Taliban after they took power in Afghanistan in 1996.

Jalaluddin Haqqani served as a cabinet minister under the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar.

The Haqqani network was one of several militant groups that operated from the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border following the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan, which began in 2001.

As the Haqqanis grew in strength, Pakistan’s security establishment was accused of secretly supporting the group, although it has strongly denied this.

Analysts say the Haqqani network has always been part of the Taliban and its members accepted Mullah Omar as their leader.

On July 30, the Taliban said they had appointed their deputy leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, as successor to Mullah Omar.

Correspondents say the move is likely to divide the group and that many senior figures opposed the appointment.

The death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar – reported by the Afghan government on July 29 – was confirmed by the Taliban on July 30.

Meanwhile, the group has appointed a successor to Mullah Omar, who led the movement for some 20 years.

Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, will replace him, sources close to the Taliban leadership said.

Correspondents say the move is likely to divide the militants, and that many senior figures opposed the appointment.

Pakistan says peace talks it was due to hold between the Afghan government and the Taliban on July 31 have been postponed.

The Foreign Ministry said this was at the Taliban’s request due to uncertainty over Mullah Omar’s death.Mullah Omar death confirmed by Taliban

The Taliban leader died two years ago in a Karachi hospital according to Afghanistan, but Pakistan has always denied that he was in the country.

A Taliban statement said Mullah Omar’s family had confirmed his death, but it did not say where or when it had happened. It said he had died of a “sickness”.

The group appointed Siraj Haqqani, a key leader in another major Afghan military group, the Haqqani network, as Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s deputy, sources said.

Mullah Akhtar Mansour becomes only the second person to lead the Taliban after Mullah Omar, who founded the group during Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s.

His alliance with al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden prompted the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Mullah Omar had been in hiding ever since, and although was not thought to have significant day-to-day involvement in the group remained a key figurehead.

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On July 29, Afghanistan’s secret services have confirmed that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for two or three years in a Pakistani hospital, although this has not been confirmed by the Taliban.

Mullah Omar was a reclusive figure even before his Taliban government was driven from power in late 2001 and he was forced into hiding – very few images of him exist.

There have been several reports in the past that Mullah Omar had died.

A statement purporting to be from Mullah Omar was released in July backing peace talks with the Afghan government. The last audio message thought to be from him appeared in 2006 but even this was leaked and not meant for public consumption.

In April 2015, the Taliban published a biography of Mullah Omar, saying he was alive and still supreme leader of the movement, as he had been since 1996.

Taliban say Mullah Omar was born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in Kandahar province.

He fought in resistance against Soviet occupation in 1980s, suffering a shrapnel injury to his right eye.Mullah Omar biography

He also forged close ties to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Mullah Omar became “supreme leader” of Taliban movement in 1996.

US-led forces overthrew his government in 2001; US state department has a $10 million bounty on him.

The biography says he does not own a home and has no foreign bank account, and saying he “has a special sense of humor”

The Afghan Taliban have published a surprise biography of the reclusive Mullah Mohammed Omar, to mark his 19th year as their supreme leader.

The 5,000-word biography on their main website clarifies disputed facts about his birth and upbringing.

It lists his favorite weapon – the RPG 7 – and says he leads a simple life and has a “special” sense of humor.

It says Mullah Omar, whose whereabouts were unknown, “remains in touch” with day-to-day Afghan and world events.

The US state department has a $10 million bounty on Mullah Omar, who has not been seen since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

It was Mullah Omar’s backing for al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden that sparked the campaign.

It is unclear why the Taliban have chosen the 19th anniversary of his supreme leadership to publish the biography but some analysts say it may be an attempt to counter the growing influence of Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Commentators and Taliban watchers have been unable to agree on many facts about Mullah Omar, including his birth and heritage.

The biography says he was born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province, in the south of the country.

It refers to the supreme leader as Mullah Mohammad Umar “Mujahid” and says he is from the Tomzi clan of the Hotak tribe.

It says his father was Moulavi Ghulam Nabi, a “respected erudite and social figure” who died five years after Mohammed Omar’s birth. The family moved to Uruzgan province.

The biography says Mullah Omar abandoned his studies in a madrassa school after the Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan and became a jihadist “to discharge his religious obligation”.

It lists his military feats fighting the Russians between 1983 and 1991, saying he was wounded four times and lost his right eye.

In 1994, Mullah Omar took over leading the Islamic mujahideen to tackle the “factional fighting” among warlords that followed the collapse of the communist regime in 1992.

Then in 1996 he was conferred the title “ameer-ul-momineen” (head of the pious believers), the biography says, becoming supreme leader.

After taking Kabul and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the biography tells of the “arrogant infidel powers of the world” who “could not tolerate Sharia law” and launched a joint military invasion.

In a section on his “charismatic personality”, the biography says Mullah Omar is tranquil and does not lose either temper or courage, does not own a home and has no foreign bank account and is affable, has a special sense of humor and never considers himself superior to his colleagues.

In a section entitled His daily activities in the present circumstances, the biography says: “In the present crucial conditions and regularly being tracked by the enemy, no major change and disruption has been observed in the routine works of [Mullah Omar].”

It says he “keenly follows and inspects the jihadi activities against the brutal infidel foreign invaders” adding: “He remains in touch with the day-to-day happenings of his country as well as the outside world.”

Afghanistan’s parliament has been attacked by the Taliban group and heavy fighting is still going on in the capital, Kabul.

Attackers detonated a huge car bomb outside the building, before racing into parliament itself, reports say.

Police are evacuating the premises, while trying to fight off the attackers.Taliban bomb attack Afghanistan parliament

The Taliban say they are carrying out the attack to coincide with a vote to endorse a new defense minister.

The incident happened as new Defense Minister Massoom Stanekzai was being introduced to lawmakers, who need to endorse him.

Pictures on social media showed parliament full of smoke and people running for cover.

Local media report another explosion in the Dahmazang area of Kabul city.

Television was broadcasting live from the building when the attackers struck and lawmakers were seen fleeing the building.

One female lawmaker is reported to have been wounded.

Afghanistan has been without a full-time defense minister for several months, and the attack is sending a clear message to the government by putting out today’s parliamentary proceedings.

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Ten men have been jailed for life in Pakistan for the attack on education activist Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousafzai, who was 15-year-old at the time, was shot in the head on board her school bus in the Swat valley in 2012, in an attack that shocked the world.

She was awarded last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for campaigning for children’s rights, despite the risk to her life.

Officials say the ten men, who do not include the man named as chief suspect, belonged to the Pakistani Taliban.

Ataullah Khan, a 23-year-old militant, was identified by a police report at the time of the shooting – but he did not appear in the list of ten men convicted on April 30.Malala Yousafzai attack

They were tried in an anti-terrorist court in Swat.

Also not included in the list of the 10 sentenced, according to an unnamed security official quoted by Reuters, were the gunmen who boarded the bus and shot Malala Yousafzai.

The exact charges the men faced remain unclear.

Pakistani officials believe local Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah ordered the attack. He is thought to be in Afghanistan.

Malala Yousafzai was treated for her injuries in the UK and currently lives in Birmingham with her family. They are unable to return to Pakistan because of Taliban death threats.

Pakistan’s mountainous Swat valley was ruled by the Taliban from 2007 to 2009.

It was the threat by Mullah Fazlullah to close down schools offering girls’ education that led to Malala Yousafzai’s diary for BBC Urdu, which was written when she was just 11 years old.

The blog, which described life under the Taliban, was anonymous, but Malala Yousfazai also began to campaign publicly for children’s rights.

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to submit to questioning next week by the US Army general probing the circumstances that led to the his 2009 capture by the Taliban, his attorney said on Tuesday.

Freed prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was introduced to the investigating officer, Major General Kenneth R. Dahl, and is expected to be questioned by him next week in Texas in an informal setting, said the soldier’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell.

“They’ve said hello to one another. It was literally a meeting to introduce themselves to one another,” said Eugene Fidell, a military law expert who lectures at Yale University.

Bowe Bergdahl was released in May in exchange for five Taliban prisoners who were transferred to Qatar from the Guantanamo Bay US prison in Cuba.

 Bowe Bergdahl was introduced to the investigating officer, Major General Kenneth R. Dahl, and is expected to be questioned by him next week in Texas in an informal setting

Bowe Bergdahl was introduced to the investigating officer, Major General Kenneth R. Dahl, and is expected to be questioned by him next week in Texas in an informal setting

Critics have questioned whether the Obama administration paid too high a price and whether Bowe Bergdahl had deserted his combat outpost in Afghanistan before his capture.

Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has completed counseling and a reintegration program and been assigned a desk job at a Texas military base as the Army investigates events that led to five years of imprisonment by captors whom Eugene Fidell has described as ruthless killers.

Eugene Fidell is to advise Bowe Bergdahl during the session with the Army general probing the case, and Kenneth R. Dahl is expected to have his own legal counsel present as well, he said.

The investigation was to be completed 60 days from the time of Kenneth R. Dahl’s appointment on June 16 but an extended deadline may be needed, Eugene Fidell said.

“There may be an extension in this case. It’s a complicated matter with a lot of witnesses,” he said.

A senior Army officer has said the purpose of the probe was to determine facts and circumstances surrounding Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance up to the point of capture.

Kenneth R. Dahl’s finding and recommendations will be presented to the director of Army staff, who is not bound by the conclusions and who could issue his own determinations and recommendations.

Eugene Fidell said Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, is to remain under the Army’s authority pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will return to active military duty at the end of his reintegration process, the US Army has said.

Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years by the Taliban, will take a headquarters job on a Texas base.

The soldier was released in May in a swap for five Taliban commanders, a move some US politicians decried.

The army is investigating the circumstances of his capture, including whether he intended to desert.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will return to active military duty at the end of his reintegration process

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will return to active military duty at the end of his reintegration process

Two soldiers will reportedly be assigned to assist Bowe Bergdahl, and he will live in military barracks, US media reported.

He will take a job with US Army North at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, the army said.

Bowe Bergdahl has yet to speak publicly regarding his ordeal since his release on 31 May.

The move to release five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay after Sgt Bowe Bergdahl was transferred to US special forces sparked a heated political row in the US.

The US opened an investigation into his disappearance in 2009 but said investigators would not interview him until he finished the reintegration process.

The US military has concluded Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his base without authorization before his capture but has stopped short of accusing him of desertion.

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A picture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl appearing to pose with a Taliban leader during his captivity in Afghanistan has been dismissed as “propaganda” by the US.

After being held for five years, Bowe Bergdahl was released in May in a swap for five Guantanamo detainees.

A Pentagon spokesman said the US had no reason to believe the photo, which appeared on social media and has not been verified, was not authentic.

Bowe Bergdahl is shown with Badruddin Haqqani, a militant commander killed in 2012.

He has been undergoing what the US military calls a “reintegration process” in Texas since his return.

Bowe Bergdahl is shown with Badruddin Haqqani, Taliban commander killed in 2012

Bowe Bergdahl is shown with Badruddin Haqqani, Taliban commander killed in 2012

The photo appeared on a Taliban-supporting Facebook page and Twitter account, but was undated.

Bowe Bergdahl was held captive, reportedly by both the Taliban and the affiliated Haqqani network, since 2009.

Defense department spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters on Thursday any photos released by the Taliban or Badruddin Haqqani network “are 100% propaganda and should be viewed that way”.

Bowe Bergdahl has not spoken about his ordeal publicly since his release on May 31.

The move to release five Guantanamo detainees after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was transferred to US special forces sparked a heated political row in the US.

Fellow soldiers have also argued Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl knowingly wandered away from his unit while deployed in Afghanistan in June 2009.

The US has opened an investigation into his disappearance, but has said they will not interview Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl until he is finished with the reintegration process.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has moved to outpatient care on a Texas military base.

The soldier held captive for five years by Taliban-linked militants will no longer be in hospital all day, but specifics of his location will not be made public.

“His reintegration process continues with exposure to more people and a gradual increase of social interactions,” an Army spokesman said.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has not spoken about his ordeal publicly since his release on May 31.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive for five years by Taliban-linked militants

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was held captive for five years by Taliban-linked militants (photo CBS News)

He was swapped for five prisoners in a US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a move that sparked a heated political row.

Fellow soldiers have also argued Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl knowingly wandered away from his unit while deployed in Afghanistan in June 2009.

The Army has opened an investigation into Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance, but has said they will not interview him until he is finished with the reintegration process.

Bowe Bergdahl arrived at the US military base near San Antonio on June 13, after a period of recovery at a military hospital in Germany.

In short statement, the Army said Bowe Bergdahl continued to be counseled by psychologists on the military base in San Antonio “to ensure he progresses to the point where he can return to duty”.

In their last update, Army officials said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had not yet been in contact with his family, which they described as his own choice.

It is unclear if Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has now spoken to his family.

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The US army has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance from an Afghan outpost.

Major General Kenneth Dahl, who served in combat in Afghanistan, has been appointed to lead the investigation.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, returned to the US after five years in captivity on Friday.

Shortly after his release, several commentators and soldiers came forward to brand him a deserter and call for him to be punished.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to the US after five years in captivity

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returned to the US after five years in captivity

The Pentagon has previously concluded Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked off base in Paktika province without authorization, but officials have not determined whether he intended to desert.

Bowe Bergdahl was flown from a military hospital in Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas on Friday, where he will complete the final phase of the reintegration process.

He was released by the Taliban in late May in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, a move that has been criticized by some lawmakers.

In a statement, the defense department said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl would have access to evidence gathered in 2009 shortly after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured.

But officials will not be able to interview him until a team working on his “reintegration” will allow it.

“We ask that everyone respect the time and privacy necessary to accomplish the objectives of the last phase of reintegration,” the department said in a statement, adding there is no timeline for wrapping up the investigation.

On Friday, Maj. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo said Bowe Bergdahl “looked good” as he returned to Texas and was in uniform and saluted.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had not yet been in contact with his family, which officials described as his own choice.

[youtube ErYRr81HAiY 650]

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed last month after five years in Taliban captivity, is in a stable condition in hospital in Texas, officials have said.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, arrived in the US from Germany early on Friday and was taken to a military medical center for the next part of his reintegration.

He “looked good”, was in uniform, and saluted, Maj. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo said.

Bowe Bergdahl has not yet been in contact with his family, which officials described as his own choice.

“He appeared just like any sergeant would when they see a two-star general – a little bit nervous,” Gen. Josepg DiSalvo said.

“But he looked good, saluted, and had good deportment.”

Bowe Bergdahl has not yet been in contact with his family, which officials described as his own choice

Bowe Bergdahl has not yet been in contact with his family, which officials described as his own choice

Bowe Bergdahl arrived at about 01:40 local time and was subsequently driven in a three-vehicle convoy to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston.

Army officers also said Bowe Bergdahl had not yet been in contact with his parents, Robert and Jani Bergdahl, who are not in Texas.

“Family support is a critical part of the reintegration process,” Army psychologist Col. Bradley Poppen said.

“Overall, though it is a returnee’s choice to determine when, where and who they want to re-engage with socially, and I believe the family understands that process at this point in time.”

In the near future, Bowe Bergdahl will work with medical staff on reintegration, the progress of which will be driven by the soldier himself.

“There is no set timeline,” Joseph DiSalvo said.

The focus of reintegration will be on re-equipping the soldier, who is staying in a hospital room, with an “appropriate level of mental and physical stability to effectively resume normal activities with minimal physical and emotional complications”, he said.

Col. Bradley Poppen said: “What we are trying to do is get him to recognize that the coping skills he used to survive this long, five-year ordeal may not be healthy and functional now.”

Bowe Bergdahl has not yet been made aware of the media coverage of the circumstances of his disappearance from a military base in Afghanistan in 2009 nor of the controversy over the deal that saw him exchanged for five senior Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Anything surrounding the controversy of his disappearance is not part of his reintegration,” Gen. Joseph DiSalvo said.

Shortly after Bowe Bergdahl’s release, several commentators and soldiers came forward to brand him a deserter and call for him to be punished.

Critics of the prisoner swap, which include some Democrats, have objected to the fact Congress was not given notice of the deal. They say the Taliban detainees are too dangerous to free.

The Pentagon has concluded he left his post in Paktika province without authorization but it is unclear if he intended to desert. The Army has said it will investigate the circumstances of his capture, leaving open the possibility he could be prosecuted for misconduct.

An Army review of the matter will take place after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s treatment has finished, officials said.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will return to the US on Friday, officials have said.

Bowe Bergdahl, 28, will fly to a military medical centre in Texas for the next part of what the military calls a “reintegration mission”.

Officials previously said he would be reunited with his family there.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed on May 31 in exchange for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo bay, a deal criticized by the Republicans.

He has been recuperating at a military hospital in Germany since his release.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will return to the US on Friday

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will return to the US on Friday

Critics of the prisoner swap, which include some Democrats, have objected to the fact Congress was not given notice of the deal, and they say the detainees are too dangerous to free.

Shortly after his release, several commentators and soldiers came forward to brand him a deserter and call for him to be punished.

The Pentagon has concluded he left his post in Paktika Province without authorisation but it is unclear if he intended to desert from the Army. The Army has said it will investigate the circumstances of his capture, leaving open the possibility he could be prosecuted for misconduct.

His family has received death threats and a welcoming party in his hometown in the state of Utah was cancelled amid safety concerns.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has not made any public comment since his release, but on Thursday, the Daily Beast website published a letter it said was one of two the soldier sent to his parents during his captivity through the International Red Cross.

In the letter, Bowe Bergdahl says he left because conditions were deteriorating at the base.

Excerpts of Bowe Bergdahl’s journals sent to a friend before he went missing, published by the Washington Post, suggest a young soldier struggling to handle the mental stress of war.

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Jinnah international airport in Karachi has resumed operations after an assault by Pakistani Taliban which left 28 people, including all 10 attackers, dead.

The assault on Pakistan’s largest airport began late on Sunday, with security forces gaining control in the early hours of Monday.

The Taliban have said they carried out the raid as revenge for the killing of their leader last year.

The government said a full investigation was under way.

Asif Kirmani, a spokesman for PM Nawaz Sharif, also praised the security forces for their response.

Analysts say the latest violence has further undermined Nawaz Sharif’s attempt at initiating peace talks with the Taliban.

Jinnah international airport in Karachi has resumed operations after an assault by Pakistani Taliban which left 28 people, including all 10 attackers, dead

Jinnah international airport in Karachi has resumed operations after an assault by Pakistani Taliban which left 28 people, including all 10 attackers, dead

The negotiations have made little headway since February. Critics have argued that they could allow the militants to regroup and gain strength.

Pakistani officials said 10 heavily armed gunmen stormed the airport in two teams of five on Sunday at 23:00 local time.

The attackers, wearing explosives belts, are believed to have entered the area using fake ID cards, although some reports suggest they cut through a barbed wire fence.

They threw grenades and fired at security guards in the old terminal, used for cargo and VIP operations.

Jinnah airport was shut down, passengers were evacuated and flights diverted as security forces fought back.

Seven militants were shot dead in a gun battle with security forces which lasted until dawn. Another three attackers detonated their explosives.

The dead terminal staff were said to be mostly security guards from the Airport Security Force (ASF) but also airline workers. At least 14 people were wounded.

The Chief Minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah, said the attackers “were well trained” and their plan “very well thought out”.

Later on Monday, security forces displayed a large quantity of weapons and ammunition seized from the attackers, as well as food, indicating they had been prepared for a lengthy siege.

Army officials said there were indications that some of the gunmen may have been foreign nationals.

The Taliban later said they had carried out the attack, and that its aim had been to hijack aircraft, though they failed to do so.

It was “a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages”, said spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

Pakistan has been fighting an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, with the Pakistani Taliban the main militant group.

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the decision to strike a deal with the Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was unanimous in the White House.

Barack Obama’s administration had to act quickly and without first consulting Congress, he added.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the decision to strike a deal with the Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was unanimous in the White House

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the decision to strike a deal with the Taliban for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was unanimous in the White House

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed after five years in captivity, in exchange for five Taliban figures from Guantanamo Bay.

The White House is required to notify Congress 30 days before transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay but thought waiting was too risky.

Chuck Hagel was speaking the day after a welcoming party in Sgt Bergdahl’s home town of Hailey, Idaho, was cancelled, and amid suspicions that he deserted his post.

Organizers said the event was called off because of a large increase in the number of expected attendees.

Several commentators and soldiers have branded Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a deserter and called for him to be punished.

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A video showing the moment Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to US forces after five years in captivity in Afghanistan has been released by the Taliban.

The footage shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl sitting in a pick-up truck, before being walked to a helicopter in Khost province.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed on Saturday in exchange for the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The deal has caused controversy in the US, with Republicans warning it could put American lives at risk.

The Taliban video shows the moment Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to US forces

The Taliban video shows the moment Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to US forces

The US army has said it would review the circumstances surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s capture in 2009.

General Martin Dempsey, also raised the possibility that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted if he had abandoned his post before his seizure.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, from Hailey, Idaho, is in a stable condition in a military hospital in Germany.

The video, released on Wednesday, shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl dressed in traditional Afghan clothing as he sits waiting in the truck.

Several armed men with covered faces are seen standing next to the vehicle and on the hillside.

A Black Hawk helicopter then lands and the Taliban fighters – one of whom carries a stick with a white flag – lead Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to a meeting point where he is being taken away by US forces.

The exchange took place in Ali Sher district of Khost province near the Pakistan border.

The circumstances of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s capture remain unclear, with speculation he may have walked away from his base out of disillusionment with the US campaign.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents – who have relentlessly campaigned for his release – earlier confirmed they still had not spoken to their son.

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted if he abandoned his post before his capture, a top-ranking military has said.

General Martin Dempsey wrote Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, “is innocent until proven guilty”.

But he said the Army would not dismiss “misconduct if it occurred”.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama defended his decision to free five senior Taliban leaders to secure Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release on Saturday after five years in Taliban captivity.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted if he abandoned his post before his capture

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted if he abandoned his post before his capture (photo Wikipedia)

In Warsaw, Barack Obama said the US had a “pretty sacred rule” not to leave soldiers behind, arguing that the most important consideration was to bring home a young American held captive for five years.

“We don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind and that dates back to the earliest days,” Barack Obama said at a news conference.

“Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that.”

Since Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release on Saturday, a growing chorus of opposition Republicans have criticized the president’s decision to order the prisoner swap.

They have attacked the president for undertaking what they describe as negotiations with terrorists, and say the transfer of five Taliban senior prisoners from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar, puts Americans at risk.

And some have accused the president of contravening a law requiring the White House to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any transfers of prisoners from Guantanamo.

In Poland, Barack Obama said his administration had consulted Congress “for some time” about the possibility of a prisoner exchange, though he acknowledged Congress was not briefed ahead of time on the operation.

“We saw an opportunity, we were concerned about Sgt Bergdahl’s health… and we seized that opportunity,” he said.

On his Facebook page, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, wrote the operation was “likely the last, best opportunity to free him”.

“As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts,” he wrote.

“Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family.”

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho is in stable condition in a military hospital in Germany.

He went missing from a remote base in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, in June 2009. After mounting an intensive effort to locate and rescue him, the Pentagon concluded Bowe Bergdahl had intentionally abandoned his post before his capture, US media have reported. Efforts to win his release moved from the field to the negotiating table.

Since Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s rescue, the reaction from Republicans has grown increasingly hostile.

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Republicans and Democrats have clashed over the deal to swap five Guantanamo Bay detainees for a Taliban-held soldier, with Republicans warning it could put American lives at risk.

Senator John McCain said the detainees, who were transferred to Qatar, were some of the “highest high-risk people”.

Afghanistan also attacked the deal, saying handing prisoners to a third country was against international law.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces in Afghanistan on Saturday.

In an emotional address on Sunday, his father, Robert Bergdahl, said he was proud how far his son was willing to go to help the Afghan people, but warned that his recovery would take a long time.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan

Robert Bergdahl said he and his wife had not yet spoken to their son, who is in a good condition and currently undergoing medical care at a US military hospital in Germany.

Several Republicans have spoken out against the deal, warning that it set a worrying precedent and amounted to negotiating with terrorists.

John McCain said the Taliban released were “possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands” and may have “the ability to re-enter the fight”, in comments to CBS TV.

Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, told CNN that Washington had “now set a price” for al-Qaeda ransom threats.

Chuck Hagel: “No shots were fired – it went as well as it could have.”

Republican representative Adam Kinzinger said he would celebrate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s return but called the release of the Taliban men “shocking”.

Questions were raised over the legality of the deal, after the Obama administration did not give Congress sufficient notice about the transfer of the Taliban detainees.

However, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is currently in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations of wrongdoing, saying the military had to act quickly “to essentially save his life”.

“We didn’t negotiate with terrorists… As I said and explained before, Sergeant Bergdahl was a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back,” he told NBC TV.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s failing health had created an “acute urgency” to act and therefore made it “necessary and appropriate” not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement.

The Afghan government, which was not informed of the deal until after the exchange had taken place, condemned it as a “breach of international law” and urged the US and Qatar to “let the men go free”.

The five detainees are thought to be the most senior Afghans held at the US detention facility in Cuba, having been captured during America’s military campaign in 2001.

In a rare public statement on Sunday, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar described the exchange as a “big victory”.

President Barack Obama said that he had received security guarantees from Qatar – which mediated the deal – “that it will put in place measures to protect our national security”.

They have been banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was serving with an infantry regiment in Paktika province, near the Pakistani border, when he went missing on June 30 2009.

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President Barack Obama has announced that he received security guarantees from Qatar over five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were transferred to secure the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces after being held for nearly five years by the Taliban.

He has left Afghanistan and is en route to a US military hospital in Germany.

Five Afghan detainees were released from the US prison in Cuba and handed to Qatar, which mediated the deal.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is said to be in good condition, was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

His parents said they were “joyful and relieved” to hear of their son’s release.

Barack Obama was joined at the White House by Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's parents, Robert and Jani

Barack Obama was joined at the White House by Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents, Robert and Jani (photo AP)

Hours after the release, President Barack Obama told reporters the Qatari government had given the US assurances “that it will put in place measures to protect our national security”.

He also thanked the Qatari authorities for their role in acting as a go-between during indirect US-Taliban negotiations that led to the deal.

The exchanged prisoners are thought to be the most senior Afghans still held at Guantanamo. Under the deal, they will be banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.

The Taliban said they welcomed their release with “great happiness”.

“While Sgt. Bergdahl was gone he was never forgotten,” Barack Obama said, adding that the US had an “ironclad commitment” to bringing home its prisoners of war.

He was joined by Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents, Robert and Jani, at the White House on Saturday. They offered thanks to those who took part in securing their son’s freedom.

In an emotional speech, Robert Bergdahl said his son was having trouble speaking English after his rescue.

Officials said the Taliban had handed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over on Saturday evening, local time, in eastern Afghanistan, in an exchange that involved several dozen US special forces.

Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was captured on June 30 2009, about two months after arriving in eastern Afghanistan.

In January, the US military obtained a new video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, giving his family renewed hope of his eventual return.

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US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years, has been freed in deal that includes the release of five Afghan detainees, US officials say.

The 28-year-old soldier was handed over to US forces in good health, the officials said.

The five Afghan detainees have been released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They were handed over to Qatar, which mediated the transfer.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Officials said he was in good condition and able to walk. He is expected to be transferred to Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Afghanistan, and then on to the United States.

President Barack Obama said in a statement that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s recovery “is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield”.

Officials said the Taliban had handed him over on Saturday evening, local time, in eastern Afghanistan. Several dozen US special forces were involved in the exchange, they said, which took place near the Pakistani border.

Once aboard the US helicopter, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl wrote the letters SF – meaning special operations forces – followed by a question mark on a paper plate and showed them to the pilots, who replied: “Yes, we’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, had been held since June 30, 2009.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be given “all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal, and we are grateful that he will soon be reunited with his family”.

He thanked the emir of Qatar for his role in enabling the transfer to take place.

On the five Guantanamo detainees, Chuck Hagel said: “The United States has co-ordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.”

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At least 32 militants including “important commanders” have been killed in North Waziristan air strikes.

Pakistani officials described precision air strikes on targets near the border with Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have died in bomb attacks since the Pakistani Taliban began its campaign against the central government in 2007.

At least 32 militants including important commanders have been killed in North Waziristan air strikes

At least 32 militants including important commanders have been killed in North Waziristan air strikes

Several offensives have been launched against the militants, but the government is also pursuing talks.

“Before the launch of the air strikes, we had confirmed intelligence information about hideouts of the militants and their top commanders,” said a senior military official in Miranshah quoted by the Reuters news agency.

The army said in a statement that the strikes were targeting militants involved in attacks against Pakistani armed forces and Pakistani soldiers.

At least nine soldiers were killed and several critically wounded by a roadside bomb in the region earlier this month.

There have been similar air strikes since the beginning of the year, but this operation appears to have been the largest in a while.

North Waziristan, one of seven lawless tribal districts in Pakistan’s north-west, is a stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants.

The peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban stalled after one round of negotiations in February, and a 40-day ceasefire between the two sides came to an end in mid-April.

At least 20 people have been killed by a bomb blast that struck a busy market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, police and medics say.

The high intensity blast at the fruit and vegetable market left as many as 100 injured, reports say.

The Pakistani Taliban has denied involvement. No other group has said it carried out the attack.

There is currently a ceasefire between the Pakistani Taliban and the government as part of peace efforts.

Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif condemned Wednesday’s bombing.

At least 20 people have been killed by the bomb blast that struck a busy market on the outskirts of Pakistan's capital

At least 20 people have been killed by the bomb blast that struck a busy market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital (photo AFP/Getty Images)

He said it was an effort by Pakistan’s enemies to destabilize the country, but that the government would remain resolute in its efforts for peace, according to his office.

The latest reports from hospitals in the area say as many as 100 people were injured.

An AFP reporter at the scene said the blast caused a 5ft-wide crater in the ground, which was littered with body parts.

The bombing reportedly happened in the Sabzi Mandi area of the capital about 08:00 local time, one of the busiest times of day for the wholesale fruit and vegetable market.

Police said the explosives were hidden in a box of fruit.

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) said it strongly condemned the attack.

“The killing of innocent people in attacks on public places is regrettable and prohibited by Islam,” it said.

Correspondents say the TTP sits at the helm of a loose network of territorially independent militant groups who have different agendas. Not all of them will favor peace talks.

The blast comes a day after 13 people were killed in a bomb attack by separatists in Balochistan province. The long-running insurgency in Balochistan is separate to the Taliban campaign which has raged inside Pakistan since 2008.

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