Kosuke Tsuneoka arrives at Osaka International Airport after 5 months captive in Afghanistan. After long request and research from authorities, services and fellow media associations, he is free.
"I feel relieved. I thought I would definitely be killed for the first two months." His captors had been asking for a ransom to Japan, and it is possible that he was released because terms were agreed. Released Saturday after going missing in Afghanistan in late March, Kosuke Tsuneoka returned home. Following his return, Tsuneoka told that he had felt anger at his kidnappers as they abducted him for money, even though he is a Muslim.
Tsuneoka was blindfolded and kidnapped by two armed military people on April 1 when he was walking with a Taliban member in Kunduz. During his captivity, he said he was locked in a residential house or moved from one battlefield to another. He was never physically assaulted but had seen a bloodied civilian brought into the same house one time during his captivity.
"The civilian, with both his hands and feet tied, was brought into the same house I was locked in. He must have been executed later," Tsuneoka said. "At that moment I realized that the kidnappers kill civilians easily. I became aware that I would be next." "I didn't understand how dangerous non-Taliban groups were. That was my complete mistake," Tsuneoka said. "I will make public what I have seen."
In messages posted in blogs in Japanese, Tsuneoka said the factions in Kunduz and Takhar provinces who kidnapped him pretended to be Taliban and "tried to extort" the Japanese government. He said Afghan authorities were unable to publicize the fact as the group's commander is very close to the Afghan government. He also said in separate messages posted early Monday that he thought during his more than five months in captivity that he would be killed to ensure his silence once the group had stopped trying to get money from the Japanese government.
In June, Afghan security officials said Taliban militants had demanded the Afghan government pay a ransom for Tsuneoka and that negotiations were under way to pay several hundred thousand dollars in return for his release.
The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency said Sunday a Taliban commander in Kunduz has claimed responsibility for holding the journalist, citing an interview with the commander. The Japanese Embassy in Kabul, however, said the kidnappers' affiliation is still not clear. Afghan Islamic Press reported Sunday that Tsuneoka was released in the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz and quoted the Kunduz commander as saying, "We treated him very well. He would vouch for this." AIP said the Japanese journalist was released because he is a Muslim and that his captors wanted him to celebrate Eid, the Islamic festival at the end of Ramadan, with his family.
Tsuneoka, who formerly worked for Nagasaki Broadcasting Co., has been covering war-related stories as a freelance journalist, traveling to war zones in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and elsewhere. According to Tsuneoka's personal website, he is interested in reporting "war stories from the standpoint of people who are vulnerable in war."
France 3 has 2 TV reporters hostages: Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier who worked for the show "Pieces a conviction" of French state television France-3, were kidnapped with their Afghan guides on Dec. 29 in Kapisa province, northeast of Capital Kabul, in Afghanistan. The general secretary of the Elysee, Claude Gueant, said Sunday on French radio that the two French state television journalists kidnapped in Afghanistan were "in good health."