British military officials ordered a daring commando raid that rescued a New York Times reporter because they feared the journalist and his interpreter were about to be moved to Pakistan, a senior Afghan official told the Times.
The pre-dawn raid freed Stephen Farrell but proved deadly for his translator, Sultan Munadi, who met a fusillade of bullets while trying to identify himself as a journalist. It was unclear whether rescuers or the Taliban killed him, according to the Times. A British rescuers, at least one Afghan civilian and dozens of Taliban fighters were also killed in the fight.
Afghan journalists criticized British military officials for their decision to go ahead with the raid, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported. Munadi had spoken to his family by phone in the hours before his death, saying that there were only a “few issues” to resolve before he would be released, according to the report.
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But Farrell told the Times he feared for his colleague's life because militants had “taunted” Munadi. “I thought we were safe. He just walked into a hail of bullets,” Farrell said. "It was over. Sultan was dead. He had died trying to help me, right up to the very last seconds of his life."