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Pakistan 19 March 2004

Concern over fate of journalist kidnapped by Sind bandits

Reporters Without Borders has expressed its concern about the fate of a young reporter who was kidnapped by bandits in Sind province on 4 March 2004.

The abduction of Shabbaz Pathan, correspondent in Sukkur, Sind province for the daily Halchal, published in southern Hyderabad, was believed linked to a report by his brother, a TV journalist, on impunity enjoyed by bandits who infest the Sukkur region.

Reporters Without Borders supports the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, which is calling on the provincial and federal authorities to do everything possible to find and free the journalist.

Armed men seized Pathan in broad daylight as he left his Sukkur office. A boy of 16 was also kidnapped at the same time. They were apparently taken to Shah Belo forest near Sukkur, where the bandits have hideouts. The gangsters who are holding the journalist have made a ransom demand to his family.

Asad Pathan, correspondent in Sukkur for the privately owned ARY TV and general secretary of the local press club, told Reporters Without Borders that the kidnapping of his brother could have been linked to a recent report of his on ARY TV about activities linking local criminals to some landowners.

The head of government for Sind, Sardar Ali Mahar, has ordered the police to act in the case, but police efforts have so far not produced results.

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