Stephen Farrell, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times who was reporting on recent NATO air strikes in Afghanistan, was kidnapped by the Taliban four days ago alongside his interpreter, Sultan Munadi. The paper kept the hostage situation under wraps, just as they did when their reporter David Rhode was kidnapped (he eventually escaped) earlier this year. Early this morning, coalition forces raided the Taliban compound where Farrell was being kept, securing his release. Here is his description of what happened, from the Times:
“We were all in a room, the Talibs all ran, it was obviously a raid,” Mr. Farrell said. “We thought they would kill us. We thought should we go out.” Mr. Farrell said as he and Mr. Munadi ran outside, he heard voices. “There were bullets all around us. I could hear British and Afghan voices.”
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.
Munadi, the translator, was killed. So was a British soldier. “We’re overjoyed that Steve is free,” said Times executive editor Bill Keller, “But deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost.”