New York, November 13, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the destruction of the Kabul offices of Al-Jazeera, the Qatari-based, Arabic language satellite television station.
The building that housed the station was destroyed by a missile fired by a U.S. warplane early Tuesday morning, according to international news reports. No injuries have been reported.
The target of the missile attack remains unclear. The Kabul neighborhood that houses the Al-Jazeera office was also home to several Taliban officials and the Taliban Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue.
A Pentagon spokesperson told CPJ that they were investigating reports of the bombing.
“Al-Jazeera is a vital source of news and information about the conflict in Afghanistan,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We are relieved that no lives were lost in the incident and we hope that Al-Jazeera will resume its Afghanistan coverage without delay.”
At 1:30 a.m. today Kabul time, a U.S. warplane flew over Kabul, and reporters heard two loud explosions, Agence France-Presse reported. A guard at the Al-Jazeera office told the Associated Press that a missile landed on the office but did not explode.
The attacks came as Taliban soldiers retreated from Kabul while Northern Alliance opposition forces took over control of the city.
BBC, AP offices damaged
CPJ is also investigating reports that offices of the BBC and The Associated Press were damaged during recent bombings in Kabul. Windows were shattered and equipment was destroyed at the BBC office in Kabul during a bombing late yesterday afternoon Kabul time, but nobody was injured, according to BBC sources in London.
Al-Jazeera reaches more than 35 million viewers, including 150,000 in the United States. Although U.S. officials have frequently criticized Al-Jazeera for its alleged anti-American bias, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior officials have recently granted interviews to the station, recognizing its important role in molding public opinion across the Arab world.
For more information about Al-Jazeera, read CPJ’s special report, Between Two Worlds.
CORRECTION: At the time this news release was issued, the Al-Jazeera office was reported to have been hit by U.S. missiles. Spokespersons from the U.S. Central Command have since clarified that U.S. aircraft dropped two 500-pound bombs on the building housing Al-Jazeera, based on indications that it was a “known al Qaeda facility.”