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Afghan media rights group reports sharp rise in violence against journalists

28 June 2016 18:29

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A leading Afghan media rights group has reported a sharp rise in violence and intimidation against Afghan journalists in June.

The Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA) said on Tuesday that it had documented at least 22 cases of violence against journalists across the violence-wracked country, about double the monthly level seen in the past years.

It said violent incidents against journalists were recorded in Kabul, as well as the provinces of Zabul in the south, Daikundi in the center and Logar in the east.

Rahimullah Samander, the head of the AIJA, told a press conference in the Afghan capital that the Afghan security forces were involved in 15 incidents of violence, the Taliban militants were involved in four and unnamed armed groups were involved in three others.

“In some cases, government employees, specially low-ranking police officers, do not understand how to behave with reporters,” Samander said, adding, “We ask government departments, armed groups and those who involved in the fighting to pave the way for reporters to do their jobs properly.”

An American journalist and his Afghan translator were killed in an ambush by the Taliban militants in the southern province of Helmand on June 5. David Gilkey of the US National Public Radio (NPR) and his interpreter, Zabihullah Tamanna, who were traveling with the Afghan army, came under fire by the militants near the town of Marjah.


American journalist David Gilkey (R) and his Afghan translator Zabihullah Tamanna were killed in a Taliban attack in southern Afghanistan on June, 5, 2016. (AP)

Gilkey had been covering the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq since the US invasion of the two countries in early 2000s.

Helmand and other southern Afghan provinces have been the scene of deadly fighting between the Taliban militants and government forces in recent months.

In January, at least seven Afghan media workers were killed and more than two dozen were seriously injured in a bomb attack targeting a bus transporting journalists from the Afghan television channel, Tolo TV, in Kabul.

At least 27 foreign journalists have been killed since 1992 in Afghanistan, which is one of the most dangerous countries for media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.


An Afghan soldier prevents journalists from taking photographs in Kunduz, April 30, 2015. (AFP photo)

The last foreign journalist killed in the country was Anja Niedringhaus, an Associated Press photographer who was shot to death by an Afghan policeman while covering the elections in 2014.

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