Journalist freed by Pakistan militants

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The Independent Online

A British journalist was released yesterday after being held for six months by Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal areas. The British High Commission in Islamabad said yesterday that Asad Qureshi was safe and had received consular help.

Mr Qureshi had been working on an independent documentary, commissioned by Channel 4, on Pakistan's militants when he was snatched by militants in North Waziristan on 26 March. Two retired Pakistani intelligence officers known for their pro-Taliban sympathies were abducted with him.

One of the men, Khalid Khawaja, was beheaded by a group calling itself the Asian Tigers. Mr Khawaja, who was a retired air force officer and later a Pakistan intelligence official, was found dead in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah on 30 April.

The whereabouts of the other former intelligence official, Amir Sultan Tarar, are unknown. Mr Tarar was last seen in a video emailed to journalists by the militants on 26 July. A former army officer, Mr Tarar went on to train the Afghan mujahedin during his time with the Inter-Services Intelligence. Mr Qureshi was released after negotiations believed to be brokered by his relatives in Pakistan.

The Asian Tigers group had made a ransom demand for $10m (£6.5m) in return for a prisoner exchange. It is unclear whether any of those demands were met. Mr Qureshi's attempt to film a documentary in North Waziristan was always fraught with grave risk. He may have been hoping to mitigate the risks by having the company of the country's best-known jihadist sympathisers.

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