Controversy deepens over Afghan hostage rescue

British-Irish journalist Stephen Farrell escaped unharmed in Wednesday's commando operation, but his Afghan colleague Sultan Munadi was killed along with a British soldier and an Afghan woman and child.

Munadi's father insisted that his son and Farrell were on the brink of a negotiated release. But British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the raid was "the only way" to secure their freedom.

Interviewed by the BBC, Miliband refused to confirm widespread reporting that negotiations were well advanced with the Taliban to free the two reporters. But he said: "We looked at all the options -- and I stress all the options. We had full information in front of us from when we were first briefed on this at the weekend.

"We came to the conclusion that the only way in which we could secure the successful release of both hostages was through the military action that was taken." Miliband said the deaths bore "very, very heavily on all of us" and said his "heart goes out" to Munadi's family.

Colleagues of the journalist are outraged that his body was abandoned at the scene in the northern province of Kunduz.

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