Abducted journalist released; captors’ identity in question

New York, March 11, 2005—Journalist JB Pun Magar was released today after three days in captivity. The Himal Khabarpatrika reporter called the magazine’s office in Kathmandu today from Butwal, where he is based, to say that his abductors released him unharmed at 9 a.m., according to news reports.

Magar was abducted from Lumbini, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Kathmandu, while covering an anti-rebel uprising in Kapilbastu district. Magar called his office while in captivity to say that he was being held by Maoists, but now questions whether his abductors were really members of the rebel group, Himal Khabarpatrika Editor Rajendra Dahal told reporters.

“Pun told me that it seems after all he was not abducted by the rebels but by those who have been resisting the insurgents in southwestern Nepal,” Dahal told Agence France Presse. His abductors blindfolded and interrogated Magar, and warned him to “be careful” in his reporting.

Magar was reporting on anti-rebel villagers in Kapilbastu who have killed alleged Maoists and razed houses belonging to Maoist sympathizers in recent weeks.