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Abducted journalist freed by Pakistan militants

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 09 September 2010

A British-Pakistani journalist who has been held captive by Islamist militants in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas since March, has been freed according to the British High Commission.

Abducted journalist freed by Pakistan militants (Reuters)

Asad Qureshi was abducted alongside two former Pakistani intelligence officers when they were visiting the lawless region bordering Afghanistan in March.

A spokesman for the High Commission said: "Yes, we can confirm that Asad Qureshi has been released."

He confirmed that Qureshi was being given consular assistance, but declined to go into further details about the release.

The Asian Tigers, a previously unknown militant group, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three, accusing them of spying. The group demanded the release of Afghan Taliban commanders who were detained in Pakistan to strike an exchange deal.

In April, the bullet-riddled body of one of the retired officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Khalid Khawaja, was found in the North Waziristan region, a major sanctuary for al Qaida and Taliban militants.

A note found with the body of Khawaja, who became a human rights campaigner and at times helped reporters with their work, said "spies of America" would meet the same fate.

The fate of the other former ISI officer, retired Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, also known as Colonel Imam, is not known.

Both Imam and Khawaja had close links with the Taliban and other Islamists.

Imam worked with the US Central Intelligence Agency during the Afghan jihad (holy war), against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He trained mujahideen fighters and leaders, including the Afghan Taliban's elusive chief Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He also served as the Pakistani consul general in Herat in western Afghanistan during Taliban rule. He only left the country in 2001 when Pakistan officially abandoned the Taliban and joined the US-led campaign against militancy.

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