Monday, April 09, 2007

Ajmal Naqshbandi.

Following on from my post about Daniele Mastrogiacomo his story has now become even sadder. Ajmal Naqshbandi has been beheaded by the Taliban...

The kidnapped translator for an Italian journalist was beheaded in southern Afghanistan yesterday, according to a spokesman for the Taliban.

Ajmal Naqshbandi, a freelance journalist and translator, was kidnapped with Daniele Mastrogiacomo of the Italian daily La Repubblica, and a driver in southern Helmand province on 5 March. The driver was beheaded and Mastrogiacomo was freed on 19 March in exchange for five Taliban militants.

The Taliban made a similar demand in return for the release of Naqshbandi. " We asked for two Taliban commanders to be released in exchange for Ajmal Naqshbandi, but the government did not care for our demands, and today, at 3.05pm, we beheaded Ajmal in Garmsir district of Helmand province," said Shahabuddin Atal, who claimed to be a spokesman for the regional Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah.

"When we demanded the exchange for the Italian journalist, the government released the prisoners, but for the Afghan journalist, the government did not care," Mr Atal said.

Tom Koenigs, the UN's special representative to Afghanistan, condemned the killing and called on the authorities to bring those responsible for Naqshbandi's death to justice.

The prisoner swap that secured Mastrogiacomo's release was widely criticised as an incentive for more militant kidnappings.

President Hamid Karzai defended the exchange, saying the case was threatening the survival of the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi's, government. But he ruled out further swaps.

The Taliban have also claimed they kidnapped two French workers from the aid group Terre d'Enfance and their three Afghan staff. The five, based in the southwestern Nimroz province, went missing last week.

...What an awful tale, another tale of just how bad man can be to fellow man. It also shows how little someone's life can be worth, the Taliban rated Daniele's life equal to 5 prisoners yet they only asked for 2 prisoners to be released in exchange for Ajmal. President Hamid Karzai has made an error of judgement in my view and Ajmal was his victim. Sadly I fear the same fate may come to the 5 missing aid workers based in the southwestern Nimroz province. The Taliban clearly do not mess about and I feel these beheadings will continue for a long time to come. It is a lawless region and consensus must develop among the population for stability to resume. To negotiate for the freedom of captives is a challenge that must been seen through. Our government has shown with Iran that diplomacy can win and President Hamid Karzai should follow this example or heads will roll.
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