ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad-based journalist said on Wednesday he had narrowly escaped being kidnapped by armed men, in an incident that came months after he complained of being harassed by security services.
Taha Siddiqui, who reports for France 24 and is the Pakistan bureau chief of Indian television channel WION, said the attempted abduction took place while he was being driven by taxi to the airport.
“I was on my way to airport today at 8:20 am when 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now,” Siddiqui tweeted from a friend’s Twitter account early in the morning.
“Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances,” he added in the same tweet.
Siddiqui spoke to Reuters from a police station where he was filing a report on the incident, and described how his taxi was stopped on the highway when another vehicle swerved, and braked suddenly in front of it.
About a dozen men armed with rifles and revolvers pulled him out of the cab, beat him and ‘threatened to kill’ him.
“They threw me in the back of the vehicle in which I had been travelling, but the door on the other side was open,” Siddiqui said.
“I jumped out and ran and was able to get into a taxi that was nearby, whose driver then floored it.”
In a police statement, seen by Reuters, Siddiqui said during the kidnap attempt he appealed for help from a military vehicle that was passing by.
“I saw a military vehicle and shouted for help but one of the abductors gestured (the vehicle) to move on and they did,” Siddiqui said in the police statement, adding he had previously been ‘intimidated’ by civilian and military security officials.
Taha, in a recent tweet also stated that he will brief the media over the incident in detail today.
Tweeting local journalist Cyril Almeida’s Twitter account, Taha Siddiqui said, “This is Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) using Cyrils a/c. I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am whn 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances”
Siddiqui pleaded with police to help him recover his personal belongings – laptop computer, phone, hard drives, passport and suitcase — and provide him and his family with ‘police protection’.
“My life is under threat,” he said in the statement.