Abducted Canadian journalist dead: sources

Canada

A woman journalist from Canada, who was abducted by militants in November 2008, has died following prolonged illness in the custody of the Taliban somewhere in northwest Pakistan or Afghanistan, sources said on Tuesday.

Khadija Abdul Qahar, 55, who was known as Beverly Giesbrecht before she converted to Islam, was abducted along with her translator Salman Khan and cook-cum-driver Zar Muhammad while travelling to Miranshah in the restive North Waziristan tribal region.

The three were abducted in the Bannu region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on November 11, 2008. Salman Khan and Zar Muhammad were released after eight months of captivity due to efforts made by the head of a religious party.

Khan disclosed after his release that Qahar was suffering from hepatitis and was mentally prepared for death.

She was not very optimistic about her release, he had then said.

The sources said Qahar was not subjected to any "physical punishment" by her abductors. News about her death is being kept secret and pro-Taliban circles too expressed ignorance about the development.

There was also no official word on reports about the death of Qahar, who was the owner and publisher of 'jihadunspun.com' website.

In an "urgent request" posted on her website under her byline, Qahar had asked for help in getting out of Pakistan, which she described as "erupting into a full-scale war zone."

The Canadian and Pakistan governments had launched joint efforts for her safe release but failed to achieve any positive results.

The Taliban had demanded USD two million as ransom and release of some of their detained leaders for her release.

The abductors had earlier threatened to kill Qahar if their demand for ransom was not met by March 30, 2009.

A video sent to the Miranshah Press Club showed Qahar pleading: "Please help me. Please help me... I request the Canadian government, human rights organisations and media associations to accept their demands and get me released, otherwise they will kill me."

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