Abductors of British journalist demand USD 10 million ransom

Last Updated: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 20:50

Islamabad: The abductors of a British
journalist of Pakistani-origin have released a new video in
which he is shown appealing to the Human Rights Watch to help
raise the USD 10 million demanded by his captors by May 15.

The Asian Tigers, a hitherto unheard of group that
kidnapped journalist Asad Qureshi, have set May 15 as the
deadline for the acceptance of their demands for the
reporter`s release.

Qureshi was kidnapped in Pakistan`s volatile tribal
belt on March 26 with two former ISI officials, Khalid Khwaja
and Sultan Amir Tarar alias Colonel Imam.

Khwaja was shot dead on April 30 by the abductors, who
accused him of working for the Pakistani security
establishment and the US.

The new video contradicted reports from the tribal
region that Qureshi and Colonel Imam had been released
following the intervention of the Afghan Taliban and a jirga
and handed over to the Haqqani network.

The Asian Tigers claimed responsibility for the
abductions and the killing of Khwaja. The group has issued
several videos featuring the kidnapped men.

In a video released to the media yesterday, Qureshi
said he had been detained by the Asian Tigers but was not sure
about his location.

"This is a message for Human Rights Watch. I am Asad
Qureshi, being held by the Asian Tigers, and (they are)
demanding 10 million dollars while my family has no means to
raise such an amount," he said.

Qureshi said his captors had given him 10 days to
arrange the money. He said he had urged them to extend this
period to 15 days.

"Please help me raise the amount," he said. He
described the Asian Tigers as a "very strong force".

Qureshi and the two former ISI officials had
ostensibly gone to North Waziristan to make a documentary
about the Taliban.

"There was no breakthrough in talks between the Asian
Tigers and the jirga of Taliban commanders and pro-Taliban
clerics in North Waziristan," said Muhammad Omar, a spokesman
for the Taliban Media Centre, which reportedly represents the
Punjabi Taliban operating in the tribal areas.

Omar said he was not directly involved in the talks,
but was aware of the parleys for the release of the two men.

"Do you want to take a lesson from the fate of Khwaja
Or...," said a statement sent by Asian Tigers to the media,
referring to the deadline set for acceptance of its demands.

"You have to act fast. No more child`s play," the
statement added.

Omar said the Asian Tigers had taken all militant
groups in the region into confidence and they backed its
demands for the release of Qureshi and Colonel Imam.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 20:50

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