August 11, 2000
Mr. Syed Salahuddin
Supreme Commander, Hezb-ul Mujahedeen
VIA FACSIMILE: 94-51-252-667
Dear Mr. Salahuddin:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday's bomb attack in Srinagar, which killed one journalist and seriously injured at least six others. Pradeep Bhatia, a photographer for the Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times, was one of twelve people killed in the attack, police told reporters today.
Hezb-ul Mujahedeen spokesman Salim Hashmi was quoted in today's Hindustan Times as saying, "We are deeply grieved over the death of a press photographer and injuries to some journalists." He said the attack was targeted against Indian security forces.
The attack, however, seemed bound to endanger journalists. Shortly after noon on Thursday, August 10, a grenade was thrown toward the entrance of the State Bank of India near Residency Road in central Srinagar. The initial blast lured journalists and security forces to the area, and was followed about 15 minutes later by the detonation of a powerful car bomb within a few feet of the crowd.
Among the journalists injured in the blast, according to local news reports, were Irfan Manzoor, a Zee TV cameraman whose right foot had to be amputated; Habibullah Naqash, a photographer for the daily newspaper Asian Age; Fayaz Kabuli, a photographer for the Reuters news agency; Bilal Ahmed Butt, a cameraman for Asia News International; Muhammad Amin War, a free-lance photographer; and I. Tariq, of the Srinagar News.
Including the death of Pradeep Bhatia, nine journalists have been killed in Kashmir since 1989, when the long-running conflict became a full-scale civil war.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is outraged by the killing of Pradeep Bhatia. Hezb-ul Mujahedeen's indiscriminate bombing campaign poses grave dangers to journalists and other civilians alike, and we urge you to abandon these tactics immediately.
We thank you for your attention to this matter, and await your response. Sincerely,
Ann K. Cooper