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British journalist freed in Pakistan after five months as hostage in Tribal Areas

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed the release of British journalist Asad Qureshi from captivity in Pakistan. He was held for more than five months in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

A British journalist held hostage by militants in north-west Pakistan has been freed after spending almost six months in captivity. Asad Qureshi was abducted with two former Pakistani intelligence officers while travelling in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Local newspapers reported that a ransom of 14m rupees was paid although there was no independent confirmation.

Qureshi went missing en route to North Waziristan on March 26 to interview Taliban leaders for a documentary. A previously unknown militant group calling itself the Asian Tigers later claimed responsibility for the abduction and issued hostage videos and demands for Qureshi's release. It was not clear whether those demands had been met.

The whereabouts of Sultan Amir Tarar, a former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence official, who was traveling with Qureshi as a guide when he was captured, are not known. A second guide, Khalid Khawaja, also a former intelligence official, was found shot to death in April in North Waziristan, with a note accusing him of spying for America, according to international news reports.

"We're relieved by the release of Asad Qureshi," said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "We call on the government to do everything in its power to bring Qureshi's abductors to justice. Journalists operating in areas along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to face great risk."

Qureshi, who is of Pakistani descent, has lived and worked as a documentary filmmaker in Pakistan for the last few years, according to news reports.

Date posted: September 11, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 202