Warning of Further Kidnappings Issued in Afghanistan
10 September 2009
Security experts are warning more abductions of reporters and other
foreign personnel are likely in the war-torn country, following the
kidnapping and controversial rescue of a British journalist in
The alert was issued after the
kidnapping and rescue of a New York Times reporter in Kunduz province.
Another correspondent for the same newspaper was kidnapped outside
Kabul last December and escaped his captors seven months later, after
being taken to Pakistan.
News about the two kidnappings was
initially withheld from the public while authorities worked to secure
the release of the reporters.
Risk consultant John Drake, of the
British security company AKE, predicts several more such incidents will
take place this year in Afghanistan.
"The security situation
has not improved in the country over recent weeks," he said. "And it
looks like it is only going to get worse with no strong imposition of
security or authority even after the election."
consultants say a foreigner gets kidnapped, on average, once every
other month in the country, with ransom payments for their release
reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In its just-issued
warning, AKE says members of the press remain most at risk, but all
foreign personnel, including investors and business travel, also are
AKE's Drake, speaking to VOA from Aberdeen,
Scotland, says the Taliban and other groups have dual political and
financial objectives by kidnapping correspondents and other foreigners.
"A lot of groups want to send a strong message to foreign
governments by targeting foreign nationals who are operating in the
country - the strategy being to convince the general public of
coalition nations that their armies and armed forces should not be in
Afghanistan," he said. "But a lot of groups that are responsible for
the abductions are also very keen in obtaining ransom. It's a very
lucrative source of money. It is a major business in Afghanistan."
York Times correspondent Stephen Farrell was freed unharmed by British
commandos Wednesday. Farrell's Afghan colleague, Sultan Munadi, was
killed during the operation, along with one of the commandos, and an
Afghan woman and a child who were caught in the cross fire.
who has dual British-Irish citizenship, had been kidnapped once
previously while on assignment in Iraq.
rescue operation to free him, approved at the highest levels of the
British government, is being criticized in both Kabul and London amid
reports that the captives were close to being freed through
The Media Club of Afghanistan is blaming NATO
forces for the death of their respected colleague, although it remains
unclear whether Munadi was shot by the commandos or the Taliban.
Farhad Paykar, speaking on behalf of the organization, says
international forces were reckless and demonstrated an inhumane double
"There is no justification for the international
forces to rescue their own national, and retrieve the dead body of
their own soldier killed in action, and leave behind the dead body of
Sultan Munadi in the area," said Paykar.
According to the
U.S.-based Committee to Project Journalists, at least 17 foreign and
Afghan journalists on duty in Afghanistan have been killed since the
2001 invasion to oust the Taliban from power.
More than 1,400
foreign troops have died while thousands of Afghan civilians have been
killed by insurgents or as a result of military operations.