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Pakistan 29 November 2007

Riaz Mengal escapes from his kidnappers

Reporters Without Borders today greeted with relief the news that Riaz Mengal, a reporter on the newspaper Intikhab, succeeded in escaping from kidnappers who abducted him on 4 October 2007 in the Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province.

The journalist told a press conference in Quetta on 26 November, a day after his escape from his captors, that his „kidnapping was linked to articles about trafficking of vehicles by gangsters".

He told the BBC that Atta-ur-Rehman Mengal, the son of former minister Sardar Naseer Mengal, was implicated in his abduction „because he was part of this illegal trade", which he had demonstrated in his investigations.

„Police seized a number of vehicles of the same type after my article appeared and then must have given them back under pressure from the minister‚s son," added the journalist, who was frail from his weeks in captivity.

Mengal said he had been abducted in one of the vehicles which had been seized and then returned. He said he was beaten during his first day in captivity and he had then been repeatedly moved from one place to another. He had made his escape while being held in Noshaki, in a mountainous region

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Journalist feared kidnapped in Balochistan

Reporters Without Borders today expressed deep concern about the disappearance of Riaz Mengal, of the newspaper Intikhab based in Khuzdar, Balochistan province in south-western Pakistan.

His family and colleagues have said they suspect a minister is implicated in his abduction.

Just before his disappearance, Mengal had written articles about mafia trafficking of stolen cars. "Riaz had received death threats after his investigations. His life was in danger," one Balochi journalist told Reporters Without Borders.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the authorities in Balochistan and Islamabad to do their utmost to find the journalist as quickly as possible. "The minister, Naseer Mengal, whose name has been cited in this case, should explain himself and help to find the journalist," the organisation added.

His family has laid a complaint at a police station in Khuzdar, giving the name of the minister. Police have so far no serious leads. Demonstrations calling for his release were held yesterday in Quetta and Khuzdar.

Reporters Without Borders pointed out that Munir Mengal, one of the managers of the channel Baloch Voice, has been held without trial since April 2006. The High Court in Balochistan ruled on 12 September that he was not guilty of any crime and ordered his immediate release, but police are continuing to hold him.

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