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Journalists released by alleged Taliban group following abduction in Tribal Areas

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 7 July 2008 IFJ media release:

Journalists Freed from Abduction in Pakistan's Tribal Areas

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the July 5 release of two Pakistan journalists who were abducted from Mohmand Agency by an alleged Taliban group in the notorious Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the country's north west on July 3.

According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, freelance reporter Pir Zubair Shah and freelance photojournalist Akhtar Soomoro were reportedly working in Taliban-controlled areas when they were abducted at gunpoint.

In a statement issued on July 6, the PFUJ thanked all journalists and television channels, particularly those working in North-West Frontier Provinces and FATA, for joining forces to pressure for the journalists' early release.

Both journalists are now in contact with their families and were treated well during the days of their captivity, the PFUJ reports.

"All journalists and channels showed unity for a common cause, which is a healthy sign," the PFUJ said.

The IFJ calls on all media owners, including foreign media agencies who employ local stringers and fixers, to adopt extra safety measures and sufficient training before sending journalists to these highly volatile conflict zones.

This incident follows death threats made by suspected Taliban militants against three tribal journalists working for foreign media on June 30.

The threats were reportedly distributed on pamphlets in Wana bazaar in South Waziristan in front of two mosques.

"All political and religious groups must understand that journalists are not to be targeted with violence or intimidation," said IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"Thankfully, this latest abduction was resolved quickly. However, it is clear that the deterioration of safety and law and order in the FATA and NWFP is now cause for serious consideration for all members of the media community," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"All media owners must ensure journalists' safety and protection is the absolute priority when sending them into such dangerous regions."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries worldwide.

Updates the Shah and Soomoro case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95075

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