British commando killed in raid to free journalist in Afghanistan

A British commando has reportedly been killed in a special forces operation to free Stephen Farrell, a New York Times journalist who was kidnapped by the Taliban four days ago.
Stephen Farrell, a reporter for The New York Times:  British New York Times journalist freed by Nato forces in Afghanistan
Stephen Farrell, a reporter for The New York Times Photo: AP
Mr Farrell, who holds joint British and Irish nationality, was freed when helicopter-borne commandos attacked a series of compounds in northern Afghanistan.
Mr Farrell’s Afghan interpreter, Sultan Munadi, died during the raid and the Associated Press reported that a British soldier was also killed. Unconfirmed reports suggested that women and children may also have been caught in the crossfire.
The Ministry of Defence would not confirm the soldier's death nor comment on the involvment of special forces.
Mr Farrell, 46, who works for the New York Times, was kidnapped on Saturday en route to the site of a controversial Nato airstrike on two hijacked fuel tankers in Kunduz province.
It is the second time Mr Farrell has been kidnapped. In April 2004, while on assignment for The Times, he was kidnapped at gunpoint by bandits near Fallujah in Iraq.
Describing his rescue in the early hours of Wednesday to his newspaper, he said the first he knew of the raid was the approaching thud of helicopters.
He said: “We were all in a room, the Talibs all ran, it was obviously a raid.
“We thought they would kill us. We thought should we go out.”
As the pair ran out, they could hear British and Afghan voices. He said: “There were bullets all around us. I could hear British and Afghan voices.”
As they reached the end of a wall, Mr Munadi went forward, shouting: “Journalist! Journalist!” but fell in a burst of gunfire. It was not clear if the shots had been fired by rescuers or militants. Mr Farrell dived in a ditch and shouted that he was a British hostage when he heard more British voices.
As he left, he said he saw the body of his colleague.
He said: “He was lying in the same position as he fell. “That’s all I know. I saw him go down in front of me. He did not move. He’s dead. He was so close, he was just two feet in front of me when he dropped.”
Mr Farrell was unharmed.
Sources said the raid had been ordered over fears for Mr Farrell’s life. The source said: “There’s been huge concern over them and it’s been a major effort to locate them and determine the right course of action.
“We have been trying to balance a negotiation strategy with danger to his life. On balance it was felt that the best means of protecting his life was this.”
Afghan and other international forces also took part in the raid. A spokesman for the British embassy in Kabul said: "Efforts have been underway to secure the release of two hostages in Afghanistan. We can confirm ISAF [Nato-led forces] have freed one hostage.”
The kidnapping had not been reported by journalists in Kabul because the British government and his newspaper feared publicity would further endanger the captives’ lives.
Bill Keller, the executive editor of paper, said: “We’re overjoyed that Steve is free, but deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost. We are doing all we can to learn the details of what happened. Our hearts go out to Sultan’s family.”
 
 
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