Italian authorities in Rome and Kabul confirmed Torsello’s disappearance. No claim of responsibility was made publicly, and the identity of the kidnappers was not clear. Helmand and Kandahar provinces are the sites of battles between NATO forces and antigovernment groups, including the Taliban; drug smuggling and crime are also rampant.
Torsello’s abduction came just days after two German journalists, Karen Fischer, 30, and Christian Struwe, 39, were killed by unidentified assailants on October 7 in the tent they had pitched near a road in northern Afghanistan, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) northwest of Kabul. The government has not announced any progress in bringing their killers to justice.
“We call for the immediate release of Gabriele Torsello who was doing his job documenting the news,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We’re very concerned that this case reflects a deteriorating security situation for journalists in Afghanistan.”