`Abducted Canadian journalist dead`

A woman journalist from Canada, who was abducted by militants in November 2008, has died following prolonged illness in the custody of the Taliban somewhere in northwest Pakistan or Afghanistan, sources said Tuesday.

Peshawar: A woman journalist from Canada, who
was abducted by militants in November 2008, has died following prolonged illness in the custody of the Taliban somewhere in northwest Pakistan or Afghanistan, sources said Tuesday.

Khadija Abdul Qahar, 55, who was known as Beverly
Giesbrecht before she converted to Islam, was abducted along
with her translator Salman Khan and cook-cum-driver Zar
Muhammad while travelling to Miranshah in the restive North
Waziristan tribal region.

The three were abducted in the Bannu region of
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on November 11, 2008. Salman Khan
and Zar Muhammad were released after eight months of captivity
due to efforts made by the head of a religious party.

Khan disclosed after his release that Qahar was
suffering from hepatitis and was mentally prepared for death.
She was not very optimistic about her release, he had then
said.

The sources said Qahar was not subjected to any
"physical punishment" by her abductors. News about her death
is being kept secret and pro-Taliban circles too expressed
ignorance about the development.

There was also no official word on reports about the
death of Qahar, who was the owner and publisher of
jihadunspun.com website.

In an "urgent request" posted on her website under
her byline, Qahar had asked for help in getting out of
Pakistan, which she described as "erupting into a full-scale
war zone."

The Canadian and Pakistan governments had launched
joint efforts for her safe release but failed to achieve any
positive results.

The Taliban had demanded USD two million as ransom and
release of some of their detained leaders for her release.

The abductors had earlier threatened to kill Qahar
if their demand for ransom was not met by March 30, 2009.
A video sent to the Miranshah Press Club showed
Qahar pleading: "Please help me. Please help me... I request
the Canadian government, human rights organisations and media
associations to accept their demands and get me released,
otherwise they will kill me."

In a previous footage released around the end of
February, two militants carrying AK-47 assault rifles were
shown standing behind Qahar.
On that occasion, she had pointed to the two armed
men, saying they would kill her if their demands were not
accepted.

PTI

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