Guardian journalists released by Afghanistan kidnappers

Three journalists working for the Guardian newspaper were released today after being held hostage in Afghanistan since last week.

Foreign correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was kidnapped with an Afghan director and fixer, who may wish to remain anonymous, according to the paper’s publisher Guardian News & Media.

In a statement, the newspaper group said an emergency plan was put in place as soon as it became aware of the situation on Friday.

The kidnapping was not publicised to protect the three men, although the Guardian was in regular contact with the families, it said.

“The Guardian has a comprehensive emergency plan to deal with such incidents, which was enacted immediately in both London and Kabul,” the statement said.

“As part of this plan the paper engaged professional advisers in the UK and Afghanistan to assist in securing the individuals’ release.

“The Guardian will offer full support to all three men in terms of dealing with issues arising from their kidnapping.”

The men were held captive in the mountainous Kunar region near the Pakistan border.

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said: “We’re very relieved that the three hostages have been released. It has been an ordeal for them, and difficult for all involved, including their families.

“The kidnapping is another illustration of the dangers facing journalists trying to report in many difficult parts of the world.

“We’re delighted the situation has been resolved relatively quickly and that the men are safe.

“While we can’t name them we would like to thank some particularly brave Afghan colleagues who went to extraordinary lengths to help secure their release.”

The release comes little over three months since a British commando and an Afghan interpreter were killed during an operation to free British journalist Stephen Farrell who had been kidnapped in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

Farrell, a reporter with the New York Times who holds dual British and Irish citizenship, was successfully released during the pre-dawn raid by Nato troops which led to the death of his colleague Sultan Munadi.

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