Abducted Pakistani journalist is dead, says media (Second Lead)

May 31st, 2011 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 31 (IANS) Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who went missing Sunday amid speculation that he had been seized by the intelligence agency ISI, was Tuesday found murdered, media reports said.

Shahzad’s body, with tell-tale torture marks, was found in an area known as Sarai Alamgir, nearly 200 km from Islamabad, the Dawn newspaper said on its website.

The well-informed Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online. He also worked for the Italian news agency AKI.

He wrote extensively on Islamist outfits in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as their linkages with the Pakistani establishment. His reports were widely read.

Shahzad went missing from Islamabad Sunday evening while going to the Dunya television to take part in a programme related to the terrorist raid May 22 on a major naval base in Karachi that left 14 people deead.

Dawn quoted reports as saying that his body had been identified and showed signs of torture.

AKI quoted “informed sources” as saying the body was found near a police checkpost — and close to Shahzad’s missing car.

“Inside the car were ID cards belonging to Shahzad and another unnamed person,” AKI said.

Police also reported finding a diary in the car with many contacts listed in it.

Shahzad’s brother-in-law Hamza Amer was reportedly travelling to the spot to identify the body, it said.

Since Sunday evening, his mobile phone has been switched off.

Days before his disappearance, Shahzad authored an article for Asia Times that alleged links between some navy officials and Al Qaeda.

This article, some of his friends said, may have been linked to his abduction.

Earlier Tuesday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan voiced concern over Shahzad’s disappearance and demanded that he be released unharmed.

It said that his abductors must be identified and brought to trial.

No one claimed responsibility for his abduction, but Human Rights Watch said it may have been carried out by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s main and feared intelligence agency.

Media reports also said that Shahzad’s friends had reportedly received telephone calls from purported intelligence officials saying he would be released soon.

In November 2006, Shahzad was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand province where he was reporting.

He and another Pakistani journalist were held for a week on suspicion of spying, ‘tried’ by their captors and released unharmed after they ‘confessed’ to wrongdoing.

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