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Afghanistan 25 July 2007

A Danish reporter and Afghan interpreter kidnapped for several hours

Reporters Without Borders voiced relief on learning that a Danish journalist and his Afghan interpreter were freed shortly after being kidnapped last night in Taangar, in the eastern province of Konar. The provincial governor said they were released after a few hours.

"Their swift release is excellent news but their abduction, however brief, confirms that the vicious circle of kidnappings of civilians in Afghanistan continues," the press freedom organisation said. "This is making it more and more dangerous for journalists and humanitarian workers to operate there. We call on the various armed groups in Afghanistan to renounce these methods, which are contrary to humanitarian law."

Eleven journalists, five of them Afghans, have been kidnapped in Afghanistan since the start of 2006. One of them, Adjmal Nashqbandi, was executed by his abductors. Six other journalists have been killed in Afghanistan during the same period, including Germans Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe.

The Danish journalist and his Aghan colleague were kidnapped from the home of tribal leader Haji Madar in Taangar, in a region adjoining the Pakistani border where clashes are frequent. A delegation that included a member of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) went to the area with the aim of trying to negotiate their release.

A few hour later, provincial governor Shalizai Didar announced that the two journalists had been freed. Another provincial official said that, prior to his abduction, the journalists had been planning to visit a village where 23 civilians were killed by a NATO air strike two weeks ago.

Two German engineers were kidnapped by Taliban last week and one of them subsequently died in still unclear circumstances. A group of 23 South Koreans are also being held hostage by Taliban.

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