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Afghan journalists angry that government isn’t protecting them

Afghan media workers on Saturday called on the government for more protection, a day after a sixth journalist was killed in the country in less than two months.

Bismillah Adil Aimaq, editor in chief of Sada-e-Ghor radio station, was shot dead by gunmen near Firoz Koh, the capital of Ghor province, on Friday. He recently told the authorities that his life was in danger after two assassination attempts last year.

“In the past two months six journalists and media workers have been murdered in targeted killings and continuation of this trend will mean the end of one of the main achievements of Afghanistan which is freedom of expression and media in the country,” the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee said in a statement on Saturday.

The committee called on the government to “seriously pursue the case of Mr. Adil’s killing and to come up with a clear answer to the media community in Afghanistan.”

In a protest against the lack of protection, Kabul Press Club announced on Saturday that its members would stop publishing government news for three days.

NAI, a media watchdog in Afghanistan, said the government must respond because Adil had complained to officials that his life was in danger.

Asila Ahmadzai, a senior journalist with local news agency Farhat, told Arab News that the surge in the number of killings of journalists has been a “shock to media in Afghanistan and reduced journalists’ confidence in government.”

“Some of them are thinking of abandoning this profession since the government fails to take action when a journalist files a case about a threat against him,” she said.

“The government has the responsibility to protect its nationals, especially when someone comes up and complains about threats,” leading journalist and activist Najiba Ayoubi said.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani’s National Security Council, Rahmatullah Andar, said that the government had set up a unit for journalist protection and that Adil traveled to Ghor despite disapproval from authorities.

No group has claimed responsibility as of Saturday, but Ghani blamed the Taliban for the killing.

“The Taliban and other terrorist groups cannot suffocate the voice of journalists and media workers by launching such attacks,” he said in a statement on Friday night. The Taliban could not be reached for comment, but the group had several times distanced itself from similar incidents.

“The killings of journalists have created a deep atmosphere of mistrust here because no one has taken credit for them,” Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst, said.

“The killers could be militants, spoilers of the peace, mafia, drug lords and officials because journalists have been exposing corruption cases both inside and outside the government,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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