Journalists May Be Targets in Afghanistan

By: Jonathan Fowler, Associated Press Writer

(AP) U.S. authorities warned American journalists in Afghanistan on Friday that they could be targeted for kidnap by Taliban insurgents.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said it had “received credible information that Taliban forces are actively searching for American journalists to take hostage for use as leverage for the release of Taliban currently under United States control.”

In a statement, it urged journalists in the country to “to take immediate steps to increase their security posture in light of these threats.”

Insurgents from the Taliban militia — who were overthrown by U.S. forces nearly two years ago — have stepped up attacks against American and Afghan government forces in recent months, mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

On Oct. 30, Taliban insurgents seized a Turkish road engineer and demanded the release of several Taliban prisoners. The U.S. military holds Taliban captives at Bagram Air Base, the coalition’s headquarters north of Kabul, as well as at a detention facility on Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba.

Kidnappings of foreigners have been rare in Afghanistan. In neighboring Pakistan, militants thought linked to al-Qaida abducted American reporter Daniel Pearl on Jan. 23, 2002. E-mails allegedly from the kidnappers demanded the release from U.S. custody of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Four weeks after the Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped, videotapes arrived at the U.S. Embassy showing Pearl being killed.

There are a handful of correspondents for U.S. newspapers and television and radio stations based in Afghanistan, as well as reporters who visit the area on assignment.

Embassy spokesman Roy Glover said foreign citizens who work for American news organizations also could be at risk.

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