Taliban arrest foreign journalists working for UN refugee agency

The person familiar with the arrest said the two journalists and the Afghan nationals were arrested “earlier this week” and days of negotiations failed to secure their release.

The UN refugee agency’s tweet on Friday said “we are doing everything we can to resolve the situation.” The statement did not specify how many people were arrested, their nationalities or who detained them, despite the Taliban being the ruling authority in the Afghan capital.

A Taliban spokesman, Bilal Karimi, declined to comment on the arrest but said he was gathering information about it.

Afghan journalists and civil society activists have come under increasing pressure in recent weeks as they push back against restrictions imposed by the Taliban regime. A number of protesters were abducted; despite international pressure, their whereabouts are still unknown.

Taliban officials have denied any involvement in the abductions of the protesters and have pledged to respect media freedom. But the group’s fighters routinely use force to disperse protests, and Taliban leaders called journalists to “commit to the national interest and Islamic principles”.

The international community has repeatedly said that the Taliban must show greater respect for human rights, most recently at meetings in Oslo. Taliban leaders are pushing for more humanitarian aid to ease a spiraling humanitarian crisis and international recognition.

Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan contributed to this report.

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