Friday, September 11, 2009

NATO Forces Killed Afghan NY Times Hostage in Botched Raid

According to David Batty's report in The Guardian (UK), NY Times reporter Sultan Munadi was killed by NATO forces in the botched raid that freed British reporter Stephen Farrell:
Farrell said today that he and Munadi fled the Taliban compound in Kunduz as a Nato helicopter, carrying British and American soldiers, swooped in from the night sky. "We thought they would kill us. We thought should we go out," he told a colleague in Kabul.

As bullets flew, the two men sprinted for cover, protected by a wall. Munadi moved forward, shouting "journalist, journalist", but fell in a hail of bullets, Farrell said.

Farrell dived into a ditch and, hearing British voices, shouted "British journalist".
More from the BBC, in a story headlined "Afghan rescue death causes anger:"
There is growing anger within Afghanistan about the local journalist's death and the way the incident was reported.

A group of Afghan journalists have accused the troops of having double standards when it comes to Western and Afghan lives.
Still more from the AP:
KABUL — Afghan journalists blamed international troops Thursday for the death of a kidnapped colleague during a rescue operation and said British commandos showed a "double standard" by leaving his body while retrieving a foreign New York Times writer.

The newly formed Media Club of Afghanistan — a group of Afghan reporters who work with international news outlets — also condemned the Taliban for abducting both men last week in northern Afghanistan as they investigated reports of civilian deaths in a German-ordered airstrike.

Local journalists laid flowers Thursday at the grave of reporter and translator Sultan Munadi in Kabul. Munadi, 34, was killed by gunfire during a British commando raid Wednesday to free him and New York Times writer Stephen Farrell.

Munadi was shot during the raid, but Farrell survived and was taken away in a helicopter. One British commando was killed in the raid.

At Thursday's ceremony, the group issued a statement holding international forces responsible for launching a military operation to free the journalists without exhausting nonviolent channels.

The statement also said it was "inhumane" for the British forces to rescue Farrell, who has dual British-Irish nationality, and also retrieve the body of the commando killed in the raid while leaving behind Munadi's body.

Fazul Rahim, an Afghan producer for CBS News, said the foreign forces' actions showed a lack of respect.

"It shows a double standard between a foreign life and an Afghan life," he said.
And even more, from AFP:
Munadi's brother said negotiators were on the brink of winning their release and slammed the raid as "thoughtless" despite insistence from British Foreign Secretary David Miliband that it was the only way to secure their freedom.

"There was no need for this operation at all," Munadi's brother Mohammad Osman told AFP.

"The ICRC (the International Committee of the Red Cross), the United Nations, tribal elders were all involved in optimistic negotiations for their release, when all of sudden this raid took place," he added.

"This was a totally thoughtless raid resulting in the martyrdom of Sultan."

Colleagues of Munadi are outraged that his bullet-riddled body was abandoned at the scene and hundreds of mourners attended a prayer ceremony at a Kabul mosque to pay their respects to the reporter on Friday.

His photo sat in a wreath of flowers, where a sign read: "We want an explanation for the killing of young journalist Sultan Ahmad Munadi."