New York, July 7, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of Javed Khan, a photographer for the Islamabad-based daily Markaz and a cameraman for U.K.-based DM Digital TV. Khan was shot in the chest and neck on Tuesday while caught in crossfire between government forces and the students of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, according to media reports.
Israr Ahmed, a cameraman for CNBC Pakistan, suffered three gunshot wounds during the clash and was reported in critical condition with injuries to his spinal cord, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. Khan and Ahmed were filming vehicles set ablaze by students of the Lal Masjid, according to the press freedom organization Pakistan Press Foundation.
The press groups said that photographers Wahab Saleem, of the daily newspaper The Post, and Raja Zafar, of the Express daily, were also treated for gunshot wounds suffered during Tuesday’s clashes. Geo TV Bureau Chief Absar Alam was hit by a stone thrown by students and required stitches, press groups also said.
News reports said gunfire came from both sides in the standoff. The source of the shots that struck the journalists was not immediately clear.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Javed Khan, who was killed doing his work as a journalist. And we join in the concern of Pakistani journalists to learn that three others were wounded by gunfire around the same time,” said Joel Simon CPJ’s executive director. “We call on all sides of the conflict to respect the important role of journalists, and allow them to do their work in safety.”
Today, Pakistani security forces surrounding the mosque stepped up their attack, trying to end the months-long standoff. The mosque, generally seen as pro-Taliban, had been the center of efforts to remove what leaders saw as undesirable activity like massage parlors and music shops.
Pakistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. Khan is the third journalist to die for his work this year. Noor Hakim Khan (no relation), a correspondent for the Daily Pakistan was killed by a roadside bomb on June 2 in North West Frontier Province, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. On April 28, freelance photographer Mehboob Khan (also no relation) was killed in a suicide bomb attack aimed at Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao.
And in early April, foreign militants killed the brother, father, uncle, and cousin of Urdu-language Inkishaf reporter Din Muhammed at his home in South Waziristan in apparent retribution for his work.
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.