The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) and affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association
(AIJA) note the official media release from the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan
admitting that one of its soldiers, engaged in active combat operations, was responsible
for the killing of journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak.
According to the ISAF statement,
Khpalwak, a journalist with the BBC Afghanistan service and the Pahjwok Afghan
News agency, was shot dead during combat between U.S.
army troops and armed insurgents who breached the compound of the state-owned
Radio Television Afghanistan
in Tarin Khot, Uruzgan province on July 28. Though he was unarmed, Khpalwak was
assessed by a soldier to be firing at ISAF forces. Some of his movements were
also read as suggesting intent to set off a suicide bomb.
“Khpalwak’s killing highlights the
dangers that journalists and civilians face when trapped in the crossfire
between ISAF soldiers and armed Afghan insurgents,” IFJ
Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“The IFJ appreciates the
thoroughness with which this incident was probed under applicable military law
by ISAF and the spirit of candour in which it has been made public.”
The IFJ and partner organizations of
the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) call for a broad-ranging
discussion between journalists’ unions, media managements and the security
agencies – both under coalition and Afghan government command – to ensure that
journalists in situations such as this are afforded adequate protection.
The IFJ also urges ISAF and the
Afghan government to suitably compensate the immediate family of Khpalwak for
his tragic death.
“The results of all investigations
into the killing of journalists in earlier such encounters should now be made
public as part of a broader discussion,” Park said.
“This would apply notably, though
not exclusively, to the killing of Sultan
Mohammad Munadi in September 2009, in a botched attempt to rescue a news
crew from the New York Times he was working with, after it had been
taken captive in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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