In Afghanistan, U.S. troops confiscate pictures after attack

New York, March 5, 2007 — The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by reports that U.S. soldiers deleted reporters’ photos and television footage of the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack on Sunday, in which several Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. fire.

Soldiers deleted photos and videos taken by Associated Press freelance photographer Rahmat Gul and an unidentified APTN cameraman, and threatened other Afghan television reporters at the scene of the attack. The A.P. quoted Taqiullah Taqi, a reporter for Afghanistan’s largest television station, Tolo TV, saying that U.S. troops told him “Delete them, or we will delete you.”

“We are deeply troubled by reports that U.S. soldiers censored and threatened journalists covering an incident in which Afghan civilians died,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “U.S. military authorities must ensure that troops on the ground fully respect the rights of reporters.”

According to the Associated Press and local reports, Afghans at the scene of the incident in Nanghar province in eastern Afghanistan said the U.S. Marines fired at civilians walking and riding in cars after their convoy was hit by a suicide bomber. In a later statement, the military said the troops had come under fire after the explosion.