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Kidnapped 13

Gabriele Torsello, Freelance

Helmand-Kandahar

November 3, 2006

Time in captivity: 23 days

Italian freelance photographer Gabriele Torsello was kidnapped from Kandahar province by unidentified gunmen and held for three weeks.

Five gunmen seized Torsello on the highway that links Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, to neighboring Kandahar province. The kidnappers originally claimed to be members of the Taliban, but senior Taliban leaders denied involvement. In a phone call to the independent Pajhwok Afghan News agency in Kabul, the kidnappers described themselves as “Muslims fighting foreign occupation,” Pajhwok reported.

Initially, the kidnappers demanded the return of an Afghan Muslim who converted to Christianity and who is now living in Italy. Torsello is a convert to Islam. The demand changed to include the withdrawal of Italian troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Italian officials in Rome and Kabul say they are in communication with the group, but have made very few statements about the situation.

His release was negotiated through the Italian medical aid program Emergency working in Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah, where he had photographed the group’s activities.

Torsello told reporters in Kabul after his 23-day captivity that he was kept handcuffed and blindfolded all the time. He could not identify his captors as they were always masked.

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online

Helmand

Nov 19, 2006

Time in captivity: 3 days

Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad working for the English-language Asia Times Online website based in Bangkok was abducted by the Taliban while reporting on the war in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

Shahzad entered a Taliban-controlled area in Helmand’s Baghran district for interviewing the Taliban along with Qamar Yousufzai reporter of Urdu-language Pakistani newspaper Baakhabar.

Dr Hanif, a Taliban spokesman, said the two journalists entered the area without informing the militants.

The two were free after three days in captivity.

Qamar Yousufzai, Freelance

Helmand

Nov 19, 2006

Time in captivity: 3 days

Pakistani journalist Qamar Yousufzai, a reporter for Urdu-language Pakistani newspaper, was abducted by the Taliban while reporting on the war in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

Yousufzai entered a Taliban-controlled area in Helmand’s Baghran district for interviewing the Taliban along with Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online reporter.

Dr Hanif, a Taliban spokesman, said the two journalists entered the area without informing the militants.

The two were free after three days in captivity.

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