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Asia-Pacific

Pakistani who won French journalism prize 'escapes kidnap attempt'

media A friend comforts Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui after he made a statement to police in Rawalpindi REUTERS/Caren Firouz

A Pakistani reporter, who won France's top journalism prize in 2014 and has worked for RFI's sister TV station France 24, said he escaped kidnapping by armed men in Islamabad on Wednesday. Taha Siddiqui is well-known for publishing criticism of the country's powerful military.

"Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances," Siddiqui tweeted on a colleague's account on Wednesday.

Earlier, he said, he was attacked by about a dozen armed men while on his way to the airport in Rawalpindi.

They bundled him into a car but he managed to escape by jumping out of the vehilce as it was moving, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports.

Siddiqui was "beaten [and] threatened with death", said journalist Asad Hashim in a tweet.

Hashim, who accompanied Siddiqui to Koral police station, added that Siddiqui's belongings were also taken.

Siddiqui is the Pakistani bureau chief of Indian television channel WION and has reported for France 24.

In 2014 he won France's Albert Londres prize along with French reporters Julien Fouchet and Sylvain Lepetit for a documentary on healthworkers defying the Taliban to carry out a polio vaccination campaign.

He had complained of being harassed by the authorities for publishing criticising the country's security establishment.

The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists said it had contacted Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal "to direct the concerned officials to investigate the incident of attempted kidnapping of a senior journalist".

Last year journalist Ahmed Noorani was beaten and stabbed in the head after being dragged out of his car by armed assailants in Islamabad.

Pakistan has a history of forced disappearances, linked partly to the US war on terror and partly to internal conflicts, particularly in Balochistan in the south-west of the country.

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