Reporters Without Borders is horrified to learn that the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for yesterday’s murder of journalist Misri Khan in Hangu, in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and have threatened to attack other journalists.
The claim was made when Tehreek-e-Taliban deputy spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan contacted a journalist in Peshawar, the provincial capital. “We killed him because he twisted the facts,” Ehsan said. “He had leaning towards the army in what he wrote (...) There will be other attacks against those who speak out against the Taliban. They are part of our targets.”
It was the first time that Tehreek-e-Taliban has claimed responsibility for a journalist’s murder.
Reporters Without Borders appeals to the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban’s political and military commanders to put an immediate stop to all violence against the media.
Journalists in the nearby Tribal Areas, especially those working for Pashto-language radio stations, have confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that the Taliban are showing an increasing readiness to react with threats when they feel they have been wronged by a news report.
Since the start of the year, a total of six journalists have been killed in shootings or bombings attributed to the Taliban or other Jihadi groups.
14 September 2010
Journalist gunned down in district torn by religious violence
After repeated death threats, journalist Misri Khan was shot dead today by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Hangu, in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. No one claimed the killing but his son thought a religious group could have been involved. Khan was the correspondent of the dailies Mashriq and Ausaf and ran a newspaper distribution agency.
Reporters Without Borders urges the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa authorities to carry out a thorough investigation in order to identify and punish those responsible. The inability of the federal authorities to bring the perpetrators and instigators of the murders of journalists to justice encourages them to continue. As a result, Pakistan is now the world’s most dangerous country for media personnel.
Khan’s 25-year-old son, Umer Farooq Orakzai, told Reporters Without Borders: “I think my father was killed because of what he wrote, since we have no enemies.” Khan, 50, had told colleagues he had received threats which he assumed to have come from “religious sects.” His agency’s office had also been set on fire. Khan reported the threats to the police and gave them the numbers from which the calls were made.
Khan had been distributing newspapers in Hangu district for 30 years, while working as the correspondent for several Pakistani dailies. Fellow journalists in Hangu were stunned by the news of his death and announced three days of mourning.
Located to the south of Peshawar (the provincial capital) and near the Orakzai Tribal Area, Hangu district has been experiencing violence for years because of the presence of various extremist religious sects and, more recently, the arrival of the Taliban.
At least nine journalists and media workers have been killed in the course of their work in Pakistan since the start of the year, including three since the start of this month.