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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hostage Effort Upped

MOSCOW () -- Russia has stepped up its efforts to obtain the release of seven pilots held hostage in Afghanistan since last summer, a Russian official said Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev said the Taliban guerrillas are playing for time by continuing to postpone the captives' release, Interfax said. The report did not elaborate on any ongoing negotiations to free the hostages.

The men were in a Russian Il-76 aircraft reportedly carrying a shipment of ammunition for Afghanistan's government from Tirana, Albania, to the Afghan capital Kabul when their plane was hijacked in Qandahar.