Days after a US-based magazine suggested that photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was "brutally murdered" by the Taliban, rather than being killed in crossfire, an Afghan official has confirmed the allegation. The Reuters reporter had been killed in Kandahar province's Spin Boldak district earlier in July.
While the Taliban had earlier claimed that it did not know how Siddiqui died, the recent reports paint a rather different picture. As per an India Today report that quoted Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesperson of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), Siddiqui was captured and later executed. While the matter was under investigation, it was difficult to glean information since the area in question remains under Taliban control.
According to a recent New York Times report, the journalist's body was badly mutilated while in Taliban custody. While initial visuals had shown multiple wounds, the body that was eventually handed over to the Red Cross reportedly bore dozens of bullet wounds and tire tracks across his unrecognizable face.
"Siddiqui was alive when the Taliban captured him. The Taliban verified Siddiqui's identity and then executed him, as well as those with him. The commander and the remainder of his team died as they tried to rescue him," Michael Rubin claimed in his report for The Washington Examiner. According to his report, the local probe suggests the Taliban attacked a mosque where Siddiqui was receiving treatment after they got to know about the presence of a journalist.
Shinwari however said that there was not yet any confirmation of the mutilation. Last week, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had called the father of Danish Siddiqui and conveyed his condolences over the demise of his son to his family and friends. He termed his death as a great loss for the journalism fraternity.
Photographer Danish Siddiqui 'brutally murdered' by Taliban after they verified his identity: US magazine report
(With inputs from agencies)