Canadian woman scribe released by Afghan captors

November 9th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanToronto, Nov 9 (IANS) A Canadian woman journalist, who was abducted Oct 12 in Afghanistan, has been released by her captors, media reports said here Sunday.Mellissa Fung, a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), was kidnapped from a refugee camp outside Kabul where she had gone to interview displaced people.

To deny her abductors media propaganda and not let the incident escalate into a major crisis, the CBC had requested a news blackout by media outlets.

The Canadian Press said the Canadian and Afghan authorities secured Mellissa’s release by negotiating with her captors through tribal elders in the Wardak region.

The Taliban and criminal gangs keep their victims, kidnapped from the Kandahar-to-Kabul highway, in this area outside Kabul.

But since the Taliban had denied its hand in the abduction, Canadian military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts were concentrated on criminal gangs who strike bargains for ransom to free their hostages.

Canada had also asked its elite command unit, which was returning home after their Afghan duty, to stay back to assist in rescue operations.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, denied that any ransom was paid.

Refusing to discuss how the Canadian woman journalist was freed, the prime minister said: “In terms of the role played by the government of Canada, I just say, you know, there were a wide range of agencies, literally hundreds of people involved at our end; similarly with the government of Afghanistan.”

He added: “This is wonderful news for her family, her colleagues and all Canadians. Thanks to all those individuals here in Canada and in Afghanistan who worked so tirelessly to ensure this outcome.”

The CBC thanked media outlets for their support in blacking out the news to facilitate Melissa Fung’s release.

“In the interest of Mellissa’s safety and that of other working journalists in the region, on the advice of security experts, we made the decision to ask media colleagues not to publish news of her abduction,” said CBC News Publisher John Cruickshank.

Mellissa, who is now in care of the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, will be flown home soon.

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