2 journalists kidnapped in Mohmand
GHALANAI: Taliban militants kidnapped two freelance journalists and their local collaborator in Lakaro area of the volatile Mohmand tribal region on Friday. Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammad Assad confirmed the kidnapping of the journalists, Pir Zubair Shah and photographer Akhtar Soomro, and local tribesman Malik Abdul Hassan. He said they had been taken into custody for interrogation. Assistant political agent Syed Ahmad Jan told Dawn that the journalists had been kidnapped from Ziarat Marble in Lakaro tehsil, some 40 kilometers northwest of Ghalanai.
He said the journalists had not informed the local authorities about their visit to the tribal region, although under the law they should have informed the political administration. Pir Zubair Shah of Tank and Akhtar Soomro, a Karachi-based press photographer, had been contributing to various foreign newspapers and media organisations.
Sources said they had gone to the area with the help of Malik Abdul Hassan. The Taliban spokesman accused the kidnapped persons of making contradictory statements during interrogation. He said that both were suspects and Taliban believed that they were not journalists. “Initially they said that they were journalists, but later they changed their statement and said they were politicians,” Dr Assad said, adding that they would be freed the moment they came clean about themselves and satisfied the Taliban.