21 April 2010

Cameraman and reporter killed in bomb blasts

Displaced persons queue in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province in 2009. Last week, two journalists were killed in a wave of insurgent suicide bombs.
Displaced persons queue in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province in 2009. Last week, two journalists were killed in a wave of insurgent suicide bombs.
via IPI
In a series of ferocious suicide bombings, two Pakistani journalists were killed last week in northwest Pakistan, report the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and other IFEX members. Journalists are often victims of insurgent attacks and do not receive sufficient protection from authorities.

On 16 April, Samaa TV cameraman Malik Arif was killed and five other journalists were injured in an attack at a hospital in Quetta, the capital of turbulent Balochistan. At least eight people were killed and many more injured. Quetta is a base for Taliban and other groups fighting in Afghanistan, but there has also been an increase in domestic Shiite-Sunni violence in Pakistan.

Journalists were covering a Shiite demonstration after the assassination attempt of a prominent local Shiite bank manager, who had been taken to the hospital earlier the same day. "When all the businessman's friends and all the journalists had gathered at the hospital, a suicide bomber came up, opened fire and then blew himself up in the middle of the crowd," Quetta-based journalist Malik Siraj told Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Some of the injured journalists continued to report from the area.

And on 17 April, reporter Azmat Ali Bangash was killed along with at least 41 other people when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of displaced persons collecting relief supplies. Bangash had been covering food distribution in a refugee camp near Orakzai, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas near the border with Afghanistan.

Bangash worked for Pakistan Television (PTV), Samaa TV and Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency. According to a local reporter, Bangash had recently received death threats from militants for covering the death of Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack.

In a separate incident on 14 April, about 10 gunmen attempted to kidnap Imran Khan, reporter for Din news channel and NNI news agency, from his home in Khar, a town in the Bajaur region, report PPF and RSF. Local militants dressed up as army personnel shot and wounded Khan and his sister.

Several journalists have recently left the Bajaur region after receiving death threats from insurgents, reports RSF. In February, insurgents forced state-owned Radio Pakistan to stop retransmitting Pashto-language programmes produced by the US government's Voice of America radio station by threatening to blow up Radio Pakistan's installations for broadcasting US "propaganda."

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