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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Journalist's Situation Uncertain

November 30, 2001|From Associated Press

CHAMAN, Pakistan — A Taliban security official said Thursday that a Canadian freelance journalist captured by the Islamic militia has been released, but a Pakistani intelligence official said it appeared Ken Hechtman was still being detained.

The Taliban official said Hechtman, who was writing for the weekly Montreal Mirror, was detained at sunset Tuesday in the town of Spin Buldak, in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan about 10 miles from this Pakistani border town.

On Wednesday, the Taliban put Hechtman in a taxi bound for the border, the official said on condition of anonymity.

"From there, we don't know what happened," he said.

But a Pakistani intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that the Taliban was still holding Hechtman in Spin Buldak.

The two reports could not be reconciled.

Western journalists are barred from entering Taliban-held Afghanistan, so there was no way to verify his claim.

Pakistani officials and Canadian diplomats have been working to determine what happened to Hechtman and to win his release.

Hechtman, 33, has been in the region since early October.

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