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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
Taleban kill Afghanistan reporter
Ajmal Naqshbandi
Ajmal Naqshbandi worked as a guide for visiting reporters
The Taleban in Afghanistan have killed an Afghan reporter abducted last month with an Italian journalist.

The group said it had killed Ajmal Naqshbandi because the government had refused to meet its demands to release senior figures from prison.

Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released after five Taleban members were freed in exchange. The driver, Sayed Agha, was beheaded last month.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has condemned Mr Naqshbandi's killing.

The two reporters and their driver were captured on 6 March in Helmand province.

Shohaabuddin Atal, a spokesman for Taleban commander Mullah Dadullah, said: "We killed Ajmal today because the government did not respond to our demands."

Italian deal

The Afghan government's intelligence services spokesman, Saeed Ansari, confirmed Mr Naqshbandi had been killed.

Daniele Mastrogiacomo
Mr Mastrogiacomo was freed in an exchange with Taleban prisoners

Tom Koenigs, UN special envoy to Afghanistan, said: "I condemn this senseless murder unreservedly and call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice."

In Italy, Mr Prodi said he "learned with anguish" of Mr Naqshbandi's death. "We strongly condemn this absurd crime," he said.

Ajmal Naqshbandi worked as a guide and translator for visiting foreign reporters.

He was abducted with Mr Mastrogiacomo and their driver at a Taleban checkpoint and originally accused of spying for the British army.

The reporters' driver was beheaded to put pressure on negotiations for their release.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Kabul says after intense lobbying from the Italians, a deal was done. Five Taleban were allowed to go and Mr Mastrogiacomo was set free.

Our correspondent says there was outrage in Afghanistan that the government would firstly bow to its enemy's demands and secondly that it would save a foreigner but not an Afghan.

The Taleban are still holding five government medics and two French aid workers along with three Afghan colleagues. Their fate will be decided next, they say.

President Hamid Karzai has ruled out any more hostage deals with the Taleban.

"[Mr Mastrogiacomo] was an extraordinary situation and won't be repeated again," Mr Karzai said on Friday. "No more deals with no-one and with no other country."




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