The Taliban released a video Wednesday showing an American and an Australian who were kidnapped in August, the first time they have been seen since their abduction.
The two men, an American identified as Kevin King and an Australian identified as Timothy Weekes, were abducted outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where they worked as teachers.
In the video, sent to media by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, the pair appears pale and unshaven. They say they are speaking on Jan. 1. Apparently delivering a message on behalf of the kidnappers, they ask U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to offer a prisoner exchange to secure their freedom.
“I don’t want to die here,” teary-eyed Weekes said in the video, asking his family members to speak for him to the American government to secure his release.
“If we stay here for much longer we will be killed… I am alone and I am scared,” Weekes said, adding he feared he would not see his ill mother who is in a hospital again.
“We are okay here but we need to go home,” King said in the video.
“We don’t know how long the Taliban will be patient with us.”
It was not clear where the video was filmed.
The duo also addressed US president-elect, Donald Trump, due to take office next week, asking him to negotiate for an exchange with the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram air base and Pul-e-Charkhi prison.
The American University of Afghanistan opened in 2006 and has more than 1,700 students. It has been targeted in deadly attacks by the Taliban in the past.
The Pentagon confirmed in September it had tried to rescue the two teachers in a special forces operation in August, but the attempt came too late.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. authorities were studying the video and could not confirm its authenticity. He declined to comment on the case, citing privacy considerations, but he added: “Taking and holding civilian hostages is reprehensible and we condemn such actions in the strongest terms.” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on the video.