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Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 11:39 UK

Afghan journalists criticise raid

Sultan Munadi
It remains unclear who fired the shot that killed Mr Munadi

Journalists in Afghanistan have heavily criticised a military raid to rescue a British journalist from the Taliban in which his Afghan colleague was killed.

Sultan Munadi, 34, was shot dead in the British-led operation while Stephen Farrell was unharmed. A British soldier and two Afghan civilians also died.

Afghan journalists say the incident has revealed double standards among the international forces in the country.

Mr Munadi's brother told the AFP news agency the raid had been "pointless".

But the British authorities have defended the operation, saying it was the best chance of saving lives.

'Shocking event'

Mohammad Osman, Mr Munadi's brother, said there had been "no need for this operation at all".

He said the Red Cross, the UN and tribal elders were all involved in "optimistic negotiations" for the release of Mr Munadi and Mr Farrell "when all of a sudden this raid took place".

We are really dismayed, we feel very let down by the international forces, and by Britain in particular
Bari Salam, Afghan public radio

"This was a totally thoughtless raid resulting in the death of Sultan," he said.

Bari Salam, an editor for Afghan public radio, told the BBC the death of Mr Munadi was "the most shocking event to date involving the international forces".

He said Afghans had previously seen the Taliban as being the biggest threat to lives and to the development of democracy in Afghanistan, but that now "it is the internationals who are stepping over all those values".

Mr Salam said there were "strong indications that Sultan was shot by the British forces".

"We know now that he was not on the list of people to be rescued by this rescue operation. Simply, he was left alone," he said.

"Once again we see there is a big difference in terms of attaching value to human lives when it comes to Afghans.

"We are really dismayed, we feel very let down by the international forces, and by Britain in particular."

The Media Club of Afghanistan has also criticised the international forces for leaving Mr Munadi's body behind for his family to collect.

"It shows a double standard between a foreign life and an Afghan life," Fazul Rahim, an Afghan producer for CBS News was quoted as saying by AP.

'Ignored advice'

Stephen Farrell and Sultan Munadi
The journalists were investigating a Nato air strike in Kunduz

Mr Munadi and Mr Farrell - a reporter for the New York Times - were seized by the Taliban in northern Kunduz province last Saturday.

They had been investigating a Nato air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers that left many dead.

The rescue operation took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Mr Farrell reported hearing gun fire and Afghan and British voices. He said he and Mr Munadi, a father of two, both ran outside - Mr Munadi shouted "Journalist! Journalist!" before he fell to the ground in a hail of bullets.

Mr Farrell said he did not know whether the shots had been fired by their rescuers or the militants but that Mr Munadi had died trying to protect him.

Two other Afghan civilians and a British soldier were also killed.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has praised the "breathtaking heroism" of those involved, while Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Mr Farrell had ignored "very strong advice" not to travel to the area.

Mr Miliband said the carefully planned operation was carried out "because we thought there was no better alternative" and that all those involved had been "determined to rescue both hostages".



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