Dangers Rising for Journalists in Afghanistan

 The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

increasingly concerned about the dangers for journalists and media workers in

Afghanistan, after another journalist

was injured in a suicide bomb blast on April 29.

 

Eighteen people were

reported killed in the blast in Khogyani district,

Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, according to news reports.

 

Among the 50 people reported injured

is Paul Rafael, an Australian journalist working on assignment for the SmithsonianMagazine. Rafael was evacuated to a

US military hospital.

 

Photographer Steve Dupont, also of

Australia and working for the

Smithsonian, escaped

injury.

 

The Taliban is reported to have

claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred as officials and villagers

met in an opium-growing area to prepare for a drug-eradication operation.

 

The district chief commander was

killed, while officials and police were injured, reports the Afghan

Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), an IFJ associate.

 

The attack comes as the IFJ releases

its annual South Asia Press Freedom

Report for 2007-08, which details the rising risks for media

personnel in Afghanistan from May 2007 to April

2008.

 

Data gathered for the report by the

AIJA note that four media workers were killed in Afghanistan during the year. Three

killings were targeted attacks on local journalists. In the fourth case,

Norwegian reporter Carsten Thomassen was killed in a battle in Kabul on January 14.

 

The extent of the danger is further

underlined by 38 media personnel being injured, threatened or intimidated in

both targeted and indiscriminate attacks, while 20 media workers were detained,

charged or abducted by security forces or the Taliban, according to the report.

 

Among these cases is that of Sayed Parvez

Kambakhsh, 23, who was sentenced to death in

January on charges of blasphemy. He is accused of downloading an article from

the internet regarding women’s rights under Islam.

 

In addition, eight

incidents were reported in which media outlets were directly attacked or

publications were prevented from being distributed.

 

“The latest injury of a journalist

in Afghanistan underscores the extreme

dangers confronting local and foreign media personnel reporting on the country’s

conflict,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park.

 

“It is a stark reminder ahead of

World Press Freedom Day on May 3 of the dark realities confronting journalists

who work in dangerous and volatile locations.”

 

For

further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The

IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120

countries