21 Jun 2009

Kidnapped reporter escapes from Taliban

11:50 am on 21 June 2009

A New York Times reporter kidnapped last November by the Taliban and held in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan has escaped to freedom, the newspaper says.

David Rohde and a local reporter, who were abducted outside Kabul along with their driver, "just walked over the wall of the compound" where they were being held captive in Pakistan's remote North Waziristan region, Mr Rohde's wife told the newspaper.

Mr Rohde and the Afghani reporter, Tahir Ludin, made their escape on Friday night and managed to find a Pakistani army scout who escorted them to a nearby army base.

They were flown to Bagram US military base in Afghanistan. Their driver did not escape with them.

Although occasional reports of the abduction had found their way onto the internet, the New York Times and other media had kept the kidnapping quiet out of a concern for the men's safety, it said.

The paper's executive editor Bill Keller and the Rohde family declined to discuss details of any efforts to free the captives but stressed that no ransom had been paid and no Taliban or other prisoners were released.

Mr Rohde won a Pultizer prize for his reporting on the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica for the Christian Science Monitor before joining the New York Times.

He was working on a book about the US involvement in Afghanistan when he was invited to interview a Taliban commander, but disappeared on 10 November after he left the newspaper's bureau.