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April 8, 2007

Afghan translator reported killed by Taliban captors

Afghan translator reported killed by Taliban captors

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Afghan interpreter, Ajmal Naqshbandi, kidnapped and held since March 5 by the Taliban in Afghanistan, was reported killed Sunday, according to a spokesman for the group.

Location of Helmand Province within Afghanistan

Naqshbandi was taken hostage in Helmand Province, along with Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and their driver, Syed Agha. Mastrogiacomo was freed March 20 in a controversial hostage exchange, while Agha was killed by the Taliban early in his captivity.

The exchange of La Repubblica reporter Mastrogiacomo for five Taliban prisoners was criticized, by security experts, as a precedent that could encourgage further kidnappings. It was thought originally that Naqshbandi was also released as part of the exchange deal, but was later revealed by the Taliban that he was not released.

Mastrogiacomo and his editor at La Repubblica, Ezio Mauro, had made several appeals to the Afghan government to do what it could to secure the release of Naqshbandi. “This has already cost the life of Sayed Agha…we ask President Karzai to do all he considers just and possible to save [Naqshbandi’s] life,” said Mastrogiacomo and Mauro in their latest appeal.

The Taliban are holding two French aid workers and three Afghan colleagues, kidnapped last week in Nimroz province, and are threatening to decide their fate next week. Ransom demands or deadlines have not yet been reported.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, has ruled out any further exchange deals with the Taliban.

A BBC correspondent in Afghanistan reported that there was outrage in Afghanistan over the exchange deal that saw the safe release of Mastrogiacomo. Afghans were incensed that the government not only gave in to Taliban demands, but would do so to save a foreigner and not an Afghan.



Related news

  • “Italy confirms swapping Taliban for Mastrogiacomo” — Wikinews, March 22, 2007
  • “Italian journalist freed by Afghan captors” — Wikinews, March 20, 2007

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March 22, 2007

Italy confirms swapping Taliban for Mastrogiacomo

Italy confirms swapping Taliban for Mastrogiacomo

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Location of Helmand Province within Afganistan where Daniele Mastrogiacomo was taken hostage.

Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was held hostage for 15 days, was traded for five Taliban prisoners, as confirmed by Italian and Afgani authorities.

This likely represents the first time during the Iraq War or War in Afghanistan that prisoners were openly exchanged for a hostage. An Afghani government source said the swap “was an exceptional measure taken because we value our relations and friendship with Italy.”

Cquote1.svg Maybe the enemy will realize the great benefit they gained from this deal, and tomorrow even the reporters in Kabul won’t be safe. This is not good. The government can’t let the enemy use this strategy. Cquote2.svg

—Mohammad Qassim Akhgar, political analyst

The move received sharp criticism from allies of Italy. In Washington, a senior State Department official said the United States was pleased the journalist had been released unharmed, but was troubled by possible ramifications of the swap. A spokesperson at the British Foreign Office said the deal sent “the wrong signal to prospective hostage-takers”.

Maxime Verhagen, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands spoke against the swap, “When we create situations where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, in the short term there will be no journalists anymore.”

The international backlash is the latest headache for Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who has fought hard to keep troops in Afghanistan despite resistance from pacifists within his centre-left coalition.

Prodi briefly resigned last month after a defeat in the Senate over his foreign policy, including Afghanistan, and needs the Senate next week to approve a refinancing of the mission.

An opinion poll published by Mastrogiacomo’s newspaper, La Repubblica, showed that 51 percent of Italians surveyed supported the exchange, while 41 percent opposed it.

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March 20, 2007

Italian journalist freed by Afghan captors

Italian journalist freed by Afghan captors

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Location of Helmand Province within Afganistan

Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan, Monday, after having been kidnapped and held hostage since March 5, 2007. Mastrogiacomo’s intrepreter is believed to have been released as well, though no details are reported.

Mastrogiacomo, a reporter with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, was taken captive in Helmand Province along with his Afghan interpreter and his driver, while attempting to obtain interviews with members of the Taliban.

In a television interview after his release, Mastrogiacomo expressed his gratitude to those that worked for his release. “I’m very happy, I thank you all. I knew you wouldn’t abandon me”, said Mastrogiacomo.

He also described some horrors that he witnessed while in captivity. Syed Agha had been killed in front of him by their captors. “I saw him being decapitated, it was horrific”, Mastrogiacomo recalled.

The driver, Syed Agha was reportedly decapitated by his captors for “spying” in the presence of Mastrogiacomo. Agha’s family blockaded the hospital in Lashkar Gah where Mastrogiacomo was being treated, demanding to know what happened to Agha. For reasons still unclear, security forces arrested the head of that hospital, Rahamatullah Hanafi.

Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah told Reuters that the release of Mastrogiacomo and his interpreter was secured through the exchange of five senior Taliban members.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi suggested it was not a simple task to secure Mastrogiacomo’s release, which was obtained with the help of Italian authorities, humanitarian officials and the Afghan government.

According to Italian officials, Mastrogiacomo is to travel to Kabul on Tuesday and then secure a flight to Italy.

This story has new developments.

Updated information can be found here

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March 10, 2007

Taliban claim responsibility for kidnapping of Italian journalist

Taliban claim responsibility for kidnapping of Italian journalist

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flag flown by the Taliban.

Taliban forces have claimed responsibility for the March 5 kidnapping of Italian Daniele Mastrogiacomo. Mr. Mastrogiacomo, who works as a journalist and reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica, was reported missing by the paper three days before the Taliban claimed they had taken him hostage.

Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claims he speaks for the Taliban, has told the Associated press that they “Are investigating whether they are British spies”. Mr. Ahmadi has also said that the milita had captured a man claiming to be a Briton who worked for La Repubblica. Ahmadi then claimed “The man we arrested is an Italian and he told us he worked for the Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper,” and when asked to identify the man Ahamdi responded with a text message which said “Danikel”

The Italian ambassador in Kabul has asked for proof that Mr. Mastrogiacomo is still alive before any negotiations can get underway. Mastrogriacomo, who is a father of two, was on assignment in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, and had not been heard from since Sunday. The Italian journalist was kidnapped along with two Afghan’s, who Ahmadi has identified as Sayed Agha and Ajmal, with only one name given for the latter. Afghan officials have claimed they have no knowledge of the kidnappings.

La Repubblica newspaper said that Mastrogiacomo, 52, was born in Karachi, Pakistan, where his father worked as an engineer for an Italian company. He has dual Swiss-Italian citizenship, but only was carrying his Italian passport with him. Mr. Mastrogiacomo, who speaks English, has worked in the middle east in Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq since 2002 as a staff correspondent.

Executive director Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has stated it was “greatly concerned about the welfare of our coleaugue Daniele Mastrogiamoco, who was doing his job documenting the news,” and continued “We call on those holding any members of the press to release them unharmed immediately.”

This kidnapping comes four months after the release of fellow Italian photographer Gabriele Torsello. Torsello was kidnapped on October 12th of last year while travelling by bus from Lashkar Gah to Kandahar. When the man was released on November 3rd, he said he had no idea who had kidnapped him.

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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