US professor held hostage in Afghanistan seriously ill, says Taleban

KABUL (REUTERS) - The Afghan Taleban said on Monday (Oct 30) that Professor Kevin King, one of two professors from the American University of Afghanistan who were kidnapped at gunpoint in Kabul last year, is seriously ill and needs urgent medical attention.

Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Prof King, an American, was suffering from "dangerous" heart disease and kidney problems.

"His illness has intensified, his feet have swollen and sometimes he becomes unconscious and his condition worsens every day," Mujahid said in a statement.

"We have tried to treat him time to time but we do not have medical facilities as we are in a war situation," he added.

Prof King and his Australian colleague Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in August 2016 as they were returning to their compound in the Afghan capital.

Afghan and Western officials believe they are being held by the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taleban which has carried out many previous kidnappings.

They acknowledge that an unsuccessful rescue attempt was made in eastern Afghanistan months after the two were taken.

The Taleban statement came around two weeks after Pakistani troops rescued Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife Caitlan Coleman, who had been held by the Haqqanis since being kidnapped in 2012, from an area near the Afghan border.

Earlier this year, the Taleban released a video of Prof King and Prof Weeks, showing them pleading with their government to release Taleban prisoners in return for their freedom.

Kidnapping high profile targets has become a lucrative business for the Taleban and other militant groups in Afghanistan, who often demand huge ransoms or the release of their members.