Wednesday 9 September 2009

Kidnapped reporter freed in Afghanistan raid

Stephen Farrell, a British New York Times reporter held captive by militants in northern Afghanistan, has been freed in a military commando raid, but his Afghan interpreter killed during a fierce firefight.
Armed gunmen seized Farrell and his interpreter, Sultan Munadi, four days ago while they were working in a village south of Kunduz.
The New York Times said an Afghan journalist who spoke to villagers in the area said that civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the firefight to free the journalists. That report could not be independently verified, and details of the operation itself were sketchy.
The New York Times said Farrell and Munadi were abducted on Saturday while they were reporting the aftermath of NATO airstrikes on Friday that exploded two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban militants. Afghan officials have said up to 90 people, including many civilians, were killed in the attack, which NATO officials are now investigating.
In a brief telephone call to his paper, Farrell said he had been “extracted” by a commando raid carried out by “a lot of soldiers” in a fierce firefight with his captors. Farrell, 46, joined the New York Times in July 2007 as a correspondent in the Baghdad bureau. He has spent many years covering the Middle East and South Asia. Munadi had worked regularly with the New York Times and other news organisations.
Associated Press has quoted a military official as saying a British commando was killed in the raid.
Pic of Stephen Farrell by Marko Georgiev for the New York Times

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