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    South Asia
     Jun 1, 2011


Asia Times Online journalist feared dead

Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan Bureau Chief for Asia Times Online who went missing on Sunday evening, has been killed, according to police.

Shahzad, who has been writing for Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online for nearly 10 years, failed to show up for a scheduled appearance on a television talk show in the capital Islamabad.

Police reported that his body was found in a canal in Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab province about 150 kilometers southeast of Islamabad and about 10 kilometers from where his car was found. They said that his body bore marks of torture.

Earlier, the International Federation of Journalists released a statement saying it "urgently appeals to the Government of Pakistan to order its security and police agencies to respond

 
immediately to find a senior journalist who disappeared in Islamabad on May 29".

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani expressed his "deep grief and sorrow" over Shahzad's death and ordered an immediate inquiry into his kidnapping and murder, according to Associated Press of Pakistan.

Shahzad, 40, had on several occasions been warned by officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) over articles they deemed to be detrimental to Pakistan's national interests or image. He leaves a wife, two sons aged 14 and seven, and a daughter aged 12.

Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan earlier said he suspected ISI officials abducted Shahzad, possibly because of a recent story he wrote on al-Qaeda infiltration in the Pakistani navy. Authorities haven't commented. (Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike.)

Tony Allison, the Editor of Asia Times Online, expressed his deep concern for one of the most fearless journalists with whom he had ever worked. "We will bring the utmost pressure to bear on the authorities over this case. We at Asia Times Online express our deepest sympathies for Saleem's family."

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

 


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