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Abducted Canadian Journalist Freed in Afghanistan


A Canadian journalist who was kidnapped in Afghanistan has been freed after four weeks in captivity. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Kabul that western media organizations did not report on Mellissa Fung's abduction until negotiators had secured her release. Meanwhile, two Spanish soldiers have been killed by a suicide bomb attack on a NATO-led convoy in western Afghanistan.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Mellissa Fung was abducted last month while reporting in a refugee camp just outside the Afghan capital.

Her captors took her to Wardak province, west of Kabul, where she was held for four weeks in what she described as a cramped cave.

In a video issued by Afghanistan's intelligence agency following her release late Saturday, Fung appeared calm and coherent while she answered questions from officials about her time in captivity.

Question: Had they chained you?

Answer: Yes.

Question:
Hands and legs?

Answer:
Hands and legs, but the first three weeks they had someone with me the whole time -- watching me, so they didn't chain me. But the last week they left me and they chained me.

Western news organizations in Kabul had refrained from reporting Fung's abduction while her employer and Afghan officials negotiated with her captors.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security spokesman Sayed Ansari told a news conference Sunday that three men have been arrested in connection with her kidnapping.

He said national security directorate employees in recent weeks were able to locate the hideout of the kidnappers. He said by using different tactics and local tribal leaders they pressured the gang to release the reporter.

Officials said no ransom was paid for her release and it is believed her kidnapping was the work of a criminal gang -- not Taliban insurgents.

Fung is the second abducted journalist released in recent days. On Friday, a Dutch reporter who was kidnapped about a week ago outside Kabul was freed.

Afghanistan has experienced a surge in kidnappings in recent months that mainly target wealthy Afghans. Officials blame for-profit criminal gangs for taking advantage of the breakdown in security caused by the Taliban insurgency.

Last week, the Afghan Supreme Court said there were more than 100 people awaiting execution for kidnapping, murder and other serious crimes. The Court said some of those awaiting execution are Taliban militants, but most are criminals.

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