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A British soldier who was reportedly captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, is said to have been found – however his physical status has not yet been confirmed.

The soldier is understood to have been found around 7pm local time after being missing for 17 hours." Officials say that the search has been called off and are not looking for any other soldiers."

His disappearance prompted a huge air and ground search in the south of Afghanistan, however this has now been called off.

Coalition troops had been stood down from regular operations to help look for him from the ground and air, with Nato command earlier listing him as "duty status whereabouts unknown".

The Taliban initially told Reuters that they executed the solider after coming under fire, but no independent sources could verify the firelight or the soldier’s death.

"I can confirm to the House that a British serviceman is missing in Afghanistan and an extensive operation to locate him is underway,” Defence Secretary said in statement in the Commons earlier this afternoon upon news of the missing man.

All other operations were cancelled in Helmand while Special Forces were deployed to carry out the search.

The changes affected the plans for a stealth journey to Helmand province.

He had been scheduled to travel to nearby Lashkar Ga.

The Prime Minister said: "I arrived here in Helmand province and said to the military, 'Whatever you do, don't worry about taking me around - throw everything you have got at trying to pick up this young man."

Confirmation of the disappearance first came after the Taliban issued a statement by text message claiming they had captured a soldier on Sunday.

The Ministry of Defence did not release much information at the time of the soldier's disappearance due to operational concerns.

However, information coming from Afghanistan indicated he left his base after a patrol to go for a swim. He apparently went to a village where International Security Assistance Forces have been heavily engaged in counter-insurgency operations.

Jerome Starkey, a journalist in Kabul with The Times, told Sky News he thought the soldier went missing around 4am and the alarm was raised shortly afterwards.

He said: "The suggestion that I've had... is that the soldier was last seen walking south from a checkpoint where he was based.

"He did not appear, or at least there are no reports, that he was under any duress."

An American soldier serving in Afghanistan is believed to still be in Taliban captivity.

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 Pakistan.


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