IFJ Calls for Safety Education after Journalist Killed in Pakistan Blast

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges media personnel and their employers to undertake urgent measures to ensure safe reporting in Pakistan, after one journalist was among 39 people killed in a double-bomb blast in Peshawar on June 11.


Asfandyar Khan, who had recently joined the daily Akhbar-i-Khyber, was killed in a suicide blast at the Khyber Super Market just before midnight, as rescue workers and media teams went to investigate a low-intensity blast about eight minutes earlier in a building housing Lala Restaurant in Peshawar’s military cantonment area.


Khan is the fifth journalist reported killed in Pakistan in 2011 in relation to his work.  


Eight other media personnel were reportedly among the more than 100 people injured: sub-editor Barkatullah Marwat, Mohammad Tufail and Shafiullah Khan, of The News; cameraman Hashim Ali, of AVT Khyber; reporters Shahryar and Riaz, of Akhbar-i-Khyber; andDunya News bureau chief Safiullah Gul Mehsud and reporter Imran Bukhari.


Shafiullah Khan, a trainee reporter from North Waziristan who had recently completed a Masters in journalism, is reported to be in a critical condition.


“The IFJ urges all media outlets to ensure their personnel are fully informed about the frequent recourse to the double-blast strategy, whereby an explosion is set off shortly after another to maximise the damage caused to the first responders, including journalists. This awareness should be part of urgent education and precautions for safe reporting,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


The attack came a day after the Government of Pakistan failed to meet a June 10 deadline, set by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), to establish a judicial commission to investigate the abduction and murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad in late May.


While the Government had earlier indicated it would set up the commission, the June 10 deadline passed without action.


The PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate, has called on journalists from across Pakistan to assemble in Islamabad on June 15 to hold a 24-hour sit-in outside the Parliament to demand a commission, headed by a Supreme Court judge, be set up immediately.


Shahzad’s beaten body was found about 150km southeast of Islamabad on May 31. He disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two days after he published on Asia Times Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials.


The IFJ joined the PFUJ in condemning the attack in Peshawar and again called for the Government to initiate a high-level and transparent inquiry into Shahzad’s murder and for media employers to undertake all necessary measures to protect their personnel.


The Khyber Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the PFUJ, noted the Peshawar attack was the second such incident in the past month in an area where many news media outlets are located. On May 10, tribal journalist Nasrullah Afridi was killed in a blast detonated by a bomb planted in his car at the market.


The union reported that employees of media offices near the market have repeatedly asked their managements to relocate offices after several outlets received threats of attack. 


Meanwhile, the PFUJ has expressed concern for the safety of two camera operators who have received threats since reporting on two separate incidents in different provinces.


Abdul Salam Soomro, of Awaz TV, recorded paramilitary rangers killing unarmed Sarfaraz Shah, 22, in Karachi on June 8. Dawn newspaper reported the widely viewed footage showed Shah pleading for his life as a ranger cocked his rifle and then shot him in a local park.


Jamal Tarkai, a Quetta-based journalist, recorded an incident in Balochistan province on May 17 in which police and Frontier Corps killed five foreigners said to be Chechen nationals, including three women, at a check-point in Kharotabad, near Quetta.


Correction: Asfandyar Khan's name should be recorded as Asfandyar Abid Naveed.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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