Kidnapped ex-ISI official with close Taliban link dies

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A Muhammad

Peshawar, Jan 24 (PTI) Authorities in the troubledWaziristan tribal region of northwest Pakistan have confirmedthat a former ISI official who had close links with AfghanTaliban chief Mullah Omar and was kidnapped about 10 monthsago, has died of a heart attack, a senior official said today.

Tariq Hayat, the Security Secretary for thesemi-autonomous tribal areas, told PTI that politicalauthorities in both North and South Waziristan tribal agencieshad confirmed from their sources that Sultan Amir Tarar,better known as Colonel Imam, had died of a heart attack inthe custody of his captors.

Colonel Imam''s body has not yet been recovered as theabductors were demanding a huge ransom for it, other sourcessaid. Intelligence officials posted in North and SouthWaziristan too had reported that Colonel Imam had died of aheart attack, the sources said.

Reports from the tribal region yesterday saidColonel Imam had been killed by militants.

He was kidnapped along with former ISI officialKhalid Khwaja, British journalist Asad Qureshi and his driverin the tribal belt on March 26 last year.

They were travelling to Waziristan, where Qureshiintended to work on a documentary film on the Taliban.

Khwaja was shot dead on April 30 last year by thekidnappers, who accused him of working for the Pakistanisecurity establishment and the US.

The Asian Tigers, a hitherto unheard of group, hadclaimed responsibility for kidnapping the four men.

Qureshi and his driver were released in Septemberlast year apparently after the journalist''s family paid ahefty ransom.

The kidnappers had released several videos in whichColonel Imam called on authorities to take steps for hisrelease.

At one time, Colonel Imam had close links with AghanTaliban chief Mullah Omar and several Afghan militantcommanders and tribal elders were reportedly involved innegotiations for his release.

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