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Afghanistan 8 April 2007

Deep shock at murder of ex-hostage’s interpreter

Reporters without Borders expressed “deep shock” at today’s murder of Ajmal Naqshbandi, the Afghan interpreter of Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, with whom he was kidnapped by supporters of Taliban chieftain Mullah Dadullah a month ago.

“We are distressed and revolted by this cowardly murder,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said, “and we feel strongly for his family and friends at this time. He was also the victim of double standards because the campaign for his release was not strong enough. Ways must be found to protect local people who work with foreign journalists or else these media assistants will not be able to work at all.”

The Taliban announced they would kill Naqshbandi, 23, after the government rejected a 9 April Taliban ultimatum to free some of their fighters. He was seized on 5 March in the southern province of Helmand along with Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily paper La Repubblica. The journalist was freed on 19 March after five Taliban were released by the government. His driver, Sayed Agha, was executed when an earlier ultimatum expired.

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