Afghanistan - Homage to Afghan journalist killed in rescue operation



    MONTREAL, Sept. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Journalists have been paying tribute to
Afghan reporter Sultan Munadi, who was killed during a British military
operation early this morning to rescue him and British journalist Stephen
Farrell from their Taliban abductors near the northern city of Kunduz.
Farrell, who works for the New York Times, was rescued safe and sound.
    "He represented the best of Afghanistan," said David Rohde, another New
York Times reporter who was himself kidnapped near Kabul last November. "It
was an honour to work with him. An extraordinary journalist, colleague and
human being."
    Afghan journalists who knew Munadi spoke to Reporters Without Borders
today of their sadness and incomprehension at his death.
    The press freedom organisation urges the British authorities to open an
investigation into the circumstances in which Munadi was killed in the
military assault. A British soldier, Afghan civilians and Taliban members were
also reportedly killed in the operation.
    "All options must be considered in a kidnapping case, but the tragedy
that took place this morning in northern Afghanistan raises many questions,"
Reporters Without Borders said. "The brunt of the responsibility must of
course be borne by the Taliban, who put the two journalists in danger by
kidnapping them."
    At least 16 Afghan and foreign journalists have been kidnapped in
Afghanistan since January 2002. Farrell had already been kidnapped in Iraq.
    New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said: "We're overjoyed that
Steve is free, but deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost." The
newspaper said it had not been told in advance that a military rescue
operation was being planned. At the newspaper's request, Reporters Without
Borders had not reported the abduction of Farrell and Munadi on 5 September.
    Today's operation was carried out by British troops who assaulted the
house where Farrell and Munadi were being held in a village near Kunduz. The
journalists managed to get out of the house during the raid but when Munadi
emerged, shouting "Journalist, journalist," he was struck by a hail of shots
of which the origin has not been established.
    Farrell, who was right behind him, dived for cover and waited before
announcing his identity to the soldiers.
    Munadi began working for the New York Times in 2002 before going on to be
an editor for several Afghan radio stations including Good Morning
Afghanistan. He then spent a period studying in Germany. He had agreed to
accompany Farrell as a freelancer to the Kunduz region to investigate the
reported death of up to 90 Afghans, including many civilians, in a NATO
airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers.
    Munadi was married and had two children. At Farrell's invitation, he had
posted a personal entry on the New York Times "At War" blog just a week ago:
http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2009...
    Afghan journalists pay a high price for working for the foreign news
media. Munadi was the fourth to be killed since 2001, following Jawed Ahmad,
Abdul Samad Rohani and Adjmal Nashqbandi. Others have been physically attacked
or arrested in the course of their work, or forced to leave the country.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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