A New York Times reporter held hostage by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan was freed today when British troops raided the militants' compound, but his Afghan interpreter and a British commando were killed during the rescue. Stephen Farrell was abducted Saturday while covering the aftermath of the NATO strike on hijacked fuel tankers that killed dozens of civilians. Interpreter Sultan Munadi shouted "Journalist! Journalist!" during the rescue operation but went down in a hail of gunfire, said Farrell.
Farrell says he dove in a ditch when Munadi was shot, and he wasn't sure whether British or militant fire killed the interpreter. Reporter David Rohde, whose kidnapping the Times similarly kept hushed up, had worked with the same interpreter and called him "an extraordinary journalist, colleague and human being." The Times had no knowledge that the rescue operation was taking place, according to a newspaper spokesman.