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TV2 journalist held hostage twice in Afghanistan

In the space of six months, a journalist with Afghan roots was held hostage twice by the Taleban in Afghanistan

The kidnapping of a TV2 journalist by the Taleban in the Helmand province of Afghanistan last month, has sources within the military calling the station irresponsible for sending the same reporter to the region after he had experienced a similar episode in July last year.

Nagieb Khaja, 27-year-old journalist, and a local photographer had gone to Helmand in January this year to establish contact with Taleban insurgents to record footage of the forces Danish soldiers were fighting against to be used in a documentary.

When TV2 lost contact with Khaja, the station asked for assistance from the Foreign Ministry and according to Jyllands-Posten newspaper, the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of DKK 2 million.

However, a few days later, Khaja mysteriously turned up outside a military base in Laskhar Gah and was flown back to Denmark this Saturday.

Local police accused the Taleban of being behind the kidnapping; however no local groups had taken responsibility.

The hostage incident was kept behind closed doors at the Foreign Ministry and the Danish Embassy in Kabul while Danish and international military units worked around the clock to secure Khaja’s release.

Colonel Kristian Sørensen, head of the Danish forces in Kabul, said that it was highly unusual that a hostage suddenly appeared outside a military base and considered the case to have many ‘murky’ aspects which needed to be clarified.

He also called TV2’s part in the affair ‘foolish’ and ‘not very intelligent’.

Other military sources criticised TV2 for putting lives at risk, not just their own employees’, but local civilians as well.

The first time Khaja experienced trouble, was last July when he had attempted to break through Taleban lines. He was detained by the insurgents and said that he had feared for his life.

TV2’s management confirmed that they had decided to send another reporter to Afghanistan despite the July episode, but would not comment whether it had been determined beforehand that Khaja would be the one.

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