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Media watchdog says it has recorded more than 30 cases of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists in the past two months

ISLAMABAD – More than 30 cases of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists have been recorded in the past two months, nearly 90% of them committed by the Taliban, a media watchdog said Wednesday.

More than 40% of cases recorded by the National Union of Afghan Journalists were physical beatings and 40% were verbal threats of violence, said Masorro Lutfi, the group’s leader. A journalist was killed.

Most of the September and October cases were documented in Afghan provinces outside the capital Kabul, but six of the 30 cases of violence took place in the capital, ANJU said.

Lutfi, at a press conference on Wednesday, said that while most cases of violence – or threats of violence – have been perpetrated by members of the Taliban, three of the 30 cases have been committed by strangers.

The report comes as Afghan Taliban leaders attempt to open diplomatic channels with an international community largely reluctant to officially recognize their dominance. They try to position themselves as responsible leaders, who promise safety for all.

Deputy Culture and Information Minister and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press they are aware of cases of violence against journalists and are investigating to punish authors.

“The new transition and the unprofessional nature of our friends caused it,” Mujahid said, promising the problem would be resolved.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack by armed men in early October in which journalist Sayed Maroof Sadat was killed in the eastern province of Nangarhar along with his cousin and two Taliban operatives.

Since the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan at the end of August, three journalists, including Sadat, have been killed in Afghanistan. Raha News Agency reporter Alireza Ahmadi and Jahan-e-Sehat TV presenter Najma Sadeqi were killed in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport during the evacuation.

Taliban officials have repeatedly urged the media to respect Islamic laws, but without giving details. Lutfi said his group was working on a bill with media and Taliban officials to allow the media to continue with their daily activities.

Afghanistan has long been dangerous for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in early September that 53 journalists had been killed in the country since 2001, including 33 since 2018.

In July, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photographer was killed while covering clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. In 2014, a journalist from Agence France-Presse, his wife and two children were among nine people killed by armed Taliban while dining in a hotel in Kabul.


ABC News

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