Torsello (pictured left), a renowned and experienced London-based photojournalist, was travelling between Helmand province and the neighbouring Kandahar when he and his interpreter were stopped by five gunmen on the road. The interpreter, Gholam Mohammad, was released unharmed.
According to reports, a call to Torsello’s mobile phone was then answered by someone who identified themselves as a Taliban member, who said that the Italian national had been kidnapped after suspicions that he was a spy.
While subsequent attempts to reach Torsello on his mobile phone were unsuccessful, it has been reported that Torsello phoned the director of the Hospital in Lashkargah confirming he has been kidnapped and asking the director to confirm his credentials as a photojournalist to his kidnappers.
The work of Torsello, known among colleagues as KASH GT, has been widely published and exhibited worldwide. His most famous project, The Heart of Kashmir brought together photographs spanning seven years and was widely praised fof its depiction of the divided nation.
About the Helmand region
* One of the 34 regions of Afghanistan
* Helmand produces an estimated 20% of the world’s heroin
* Helman is currently policed by the British 3 Commando, who recently took over from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, under the control of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
* The province borders onto Pakistan, which has been criticised for not securing its border against Taliban insurgents
Torsello has been working in the dangerous Helmand area of southern Afghanistan since August. The area has recently seen heavy fighting between NATO forces and fighters loyal to the deposed Taliban regime.
Last month, the governor of the Helman region survived a suicide bombing which killed 18 members of his staff. In July, a suicide bomber killed three people including the top justice official in the region.
The kidnapping comes amid increasing insurgent violence in the area. A week ago, two German journalists were shot dead in north Afghanistan, and yesterday eight civilians and a NATO soldier were killed by a car bomb in the southern city of Kandahar. At the time of publication, NATO had just reported that two soldiers had been killed today in a bombing in the neighbouring Kandahar province.
So far this year, more than 170 civilians and soldiers have been killed by insurgent bombings in Afghanistan. NATO currently has 37,000 troops in Afghanistan drawn from 37 countries.
There will be updates on the EPUK website when we have more news on Gabriele.
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