Forces Rescue New York Times Reporter Kidnapped By Taliban

It's a joyous night for the New York Times: the Pahjwok news agency, a subscription-only Afghan service, reports that foreign fighters have rescued Stephen Farrell, the paper's second reporter to have been kidnapped by the Taliban in recent months.

Farrell was taken earlier this month while covering a NATO air strike on Taliban forces in Kunduz, Afghanistan. His driver and translator were also taken.

Keeping with their policy, the Times kept a lid on the story, lest press coverage add more zeroes to a potential ransom. That's the same thing they did with David Rohde, who escaped his terrifying captors last June.

There are few details at the moment, but we'll keep you posted as news trickles across the Atlantic.

Update: So, here's what we know. Farrell was kidnapped Saturday night and, according to local Afghan official Mohammad Omar, U.S. forces plucked him out of harm's way this evening. Unfortunately, his interpreter, Sultan Mohammad, didn't make it.

Last night in a US special forces operation in Chardara district, they managed to free Stephen Farrell but the Afghan journalist Sultan Mohammad was killed by Taliban during the operation.

Update the Second: The Times itself has published a story on this harrowing tale and includes Farrell's personal account. According to the journalist, who holds both Irish and American citizenship, there was a raid by "lots of soldiers," but it was unclear at the beginning what the hell was going on, so he and his interpreter ran for their lives. Only Farrell survived:

At the end of a wall, Mr. Farrell said Mr. Munadi went forward, shouting: "Journalist! Journalist!" but dropped in a hail of bullets. "I dived in a ditch," said Mr. Farrell, who said he did not know whether the shots had come from allied or militant fire.

After a minute or two, Mr. Farrell, who holds dual Irish-British citizenship, said he heard more British voices and shouted, "British hostage!" The British voices told him to come over. As he did, Mr. Farrell said he saw Mr. Munadi.

"He was lying in the same position as he fell," Mr. Farrell said. "That's all I know. I saw him go down in front of me. He did not move. He's dead. He was so close, he was just two feet in front of me when he dropped."

Executive editor Bill Keller said the paper's overjoyed by Farrell's rescue, but are obviously quite upset his interpreter didn't make it.


Image via wallyg's flickr.