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New York Times reporter David Rohde and his Afghan fixer escape from Taliban captors

NYT reporter David Rohde in the field in Afghanistan.

American reporter David Rohde and his Afghan fixer Tahir Ludin have managed to escape from their Taliban captors who had been holding them for the past seven months. Their driver, Asadullah Mangal, is still being held.

According to the New York Times, Rohde and Ludin escaped from the compound in which they were being held in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, on June 19 and made their way to a nearby Pakistani military base. From there, they were flown to the US military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Rohde, Ludin and their driver had spent most of their captivity in Pakistan since their abduction on November 10 near Kabul. Their abductors had demanded a colossal ransom. Rohde’s family said after his escape that no ransom was paid.

“We do not know who kidnapped them or how they were kidnapped," a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). It is being reported that the Haqqanis, a Taliban family that is influential in the east of Afghanistan, was probably responsible.

"We are thrilled that David and Tahir are finally free," said Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Joel Simon. "Like many media organizations, we were asked by the Times not to publicise this abduction. We agreed because we believed that in this case it was in best interests of the hostages. We send our best wishes to David and Tahir, along with their families who have also endured this ordeal."

“No matter how much the Taliban deny being responsible for this kidnapping, it is well known that Afghan and Pakistani groups abduct people for ransom, in order to raise funds,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “This is unacceptable and poses a grave danger to press freedom in the south and east of Afghanistan and west of Pakistan.”

RSF reiterated its call to Afghan and Pakistani Taliban to stop abducting civilians, including media personnel. Six journalists have been abducted in Afghanistan since September 2008.

A Pulitzer prize winner, Rohde, 41, is well known and respected internationally for his coverage of human rights issues including the massacres of Bosnian Muslims and peace efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also interviewed former Guantanamo detainees about conditions in the detention centre. Ludin, 35, works regularly for foreign journalists as a fixer and interpreter. Mangal, 24, often works with Ludin as a driver.

Date posted: June 22, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 271