NATO says Taliban leader behind NY Times kidnapping held

5th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The US-led NATO force in Afghanistan said Tuesday that its troops had captured a Taliban leader involved in the kidnapping last year of a team from The New York Times.

The military said Afghan and coalition security forces arrested the "Taliban leader for Chahar Dara district" in the northern province of Kunduz during an overnight operation in neighbouring Takhar province following a tip-off.

It said the man was "directly involved" in the kidnapping of British-Irish journalist Stephen Farrell in September 2009.

NATO said the suspect was close to Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, forcibly collected taxes, intimidated relatives of police and attacked government buildings.

US Colonel Rafael Torres described the arrest as "exciting news" for Afghans living in Kunduz and Takhar.

"He actively assaulted established governance and security in northern Afghanistan and his capture will greatly disrupt the insurgent networks' future operations," Torres said in a statement.

NATO said the suspect and two associates were arrested without shots being fired after security forces evacuated a compound in Darquad district and questioned local residents.

Farrell and his Afghan colleague Sultan Munadi were kidnapped in Kunduz on September 5, 2009 while reporting on the aftermath of a NATO air strike on fuel tankers that killed scores of people.

Farrell was rescued in a British military raid, but Munadi, together with a British soldier, and an Afghan woman and child were killed.

© 2010 AFP

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