Fifth journalist killed in two months in Afghanistan

Rahmatullah Nekzad, an Afghan journalist working for the Associated Press, the American newswire, becomes the fifth journalist in the last two months to be killed in Afghanistan on Monday, TOLOnews reported

Shraddha Nand Bhatnagar Dec 22, 2020
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Rahmatullah Nekzad, an Afghan journalist working for the Associated Press, the American newswire, becomes the fifth journalist in the last two months to be killed in Afghanistan on Monday, TOLOnews reported.

Nekzad, also the head of the Journalist Union in central Ghazni province, was assassinated by unknown gunmen in Ghazni province on Monday evening. The war-torn country has become the deadliest for journalists in the world with five journalists killed in the last two months.

Nekzad was targeted near his home, on his way to a nearby mosque. Tariq Arian, the spokesperson of the Afghan interior ministry, called the incident an “attack on freedom of expression and press.” He also informed that the government was working with media to provide security to journalists.

For Afghan journalists, covering the conflict in the country has become a major challenge. Just days before, Rahmatullah Nekzad had procured a licensed gun due to security threats he had been receiving for the past some weeks.

No group claimed responsibility for the assassination. The Taliban denied their involvement in the killing and the insurgent group’s spokesperson Zabibullah Mujahid even condemned his assassination on the same day.

Earlier, on 10 December,  Malalai Maiwand, a woman journalist, was also gunned down by unknown gunmen in eastern Nangahar province. Last month, another famous journalist from Helmand province, Elyas Dayee,  was assassinated using a magnetic IED attached to his car.

Afghan journalists blamed the government’s lack of attention to cases involving journalist killings, saying it was a blow to press freedom in the country. Recently, media and civil societies had criticized the government for failing to reveal information in the assassination of former TOLOnews anchor Yama Siawash.

“A deadly and devastating wave of assassinations continue across Afghanistan. Member of ANDSF, judges, prosecutors, members of civil societies, and journalists (are being) targeted,” tweeted Bilal Sarwary, a renowned Afghan journalist.

Since 2014, around 1000 women journalists have left the industry owing to various reasons, including security threats. Currently, around 1500 women journalists are working in the country, a drop from earlier 2500. Female journalists in Afghanistan have become the target not just for their profession but also for their gender in the conservative Afghan society.

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