A British serviceman has gone missing in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed.
Following the soldier's disappearance from his base in southern Afghanistan early this morning, a massive search has been launched, amid claims that he was killed in Taliban custody. It is understood that the search is being carried out both on the ground and from the air, as troops desperately try to find him.
The serviceman disappeared from central Helmand Province in the early hours of this morning, the Ministry of Defence said.
The Taliban claimed that they captured the soldier during a firelight with foreign troops in the Babaji district of Helmand and he died in crossfire shortly afterwards. However Nato pointed out that this version of events could not be independently verified and that there were no reports of battle in the area. The Alliance also pointed out that the Taliban are known to make exaggerated claims about victories over coalition forces for propaganda purposes.
Meanwhile, details about what happened to the British soldier were sketchy, with one report suggesting he left the checkpoint where he was stationed to go swimming with Afghan soldiers.
The MoD said in a statement: "A British serviceman is missing in Afghanistan. An extensive operation to locate him is under way.
"The individual was based in central Helmand and was reported missing in the early hours of this morning.
"His next of kin have been informed and they will be updated as the operation continues."
The Nato command in Afghanistan said the soldier was listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown".
The Taliban have also held an American soldier hostage for more than two years.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 25, from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner in June 2009 in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan and is thought to be in captivity in Pakistan.
So just as the U.S were announced the withdrawal of their troops by 2014, and both the U.K and America acknowledge there had been talks with the Taliban, the fundamentalists fighters show they are still no friends of the West.
While the Obama administration was claiming just a couple of weeks ago that a surge of marines and soldiers into the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the past year has reversed the Taliban's momentum, the Taliban prove they are still in the game.
In the last two weeks alone, they have cumulated a number of attacks, killing 11 civilians at the Kabul Intercontinental hotel and terrorising the population. On Sunday,for example, a Taliban militant threw a hand-grenade at the gate of a school in north Afghanistan on Sunday, and injured 17 children.
Their tactics have also become even more vicious as several cases of young girls kidnapped and forced to wear suicide bomb vests have been reported.
The Taliban's message is loud and clear: in Afghanistan, they are not history and can still strike and disrupt the country, and the U.S and Nato have miserably failed in their attempts to put them out of the country's life. The future of Afghanistan is becoming more and more uncertain as the days pass and the Taliban continue on their insurgency tactics. It seems however very difficult to understand how they still maintain a level of popularity in Afghanistan when most of their victims are innocent civilians and children.