Pakistani journalist killed by gunman

New York, February 12, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of Dr. Chishti Mujahid, a columnist for the weekly magazine Akbar-e-Jehan, who was shot and killed in a targeted attack outside his home in Quetta on Saturday.

Mujahid, an eye doctor who had written a column for more than 20 years, was shot in the head and chest by an unknown gunman as he left his house, according to the Pakistani Federal Union of Journalists and local news reports. The spokesman for a banned insurgent group, the Baluch Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the murder in a phone call to the Quetta Press Club, saying Mujahid was “against” the Baluch cause, local news reports said.

“That the first journalist killed in Pakistan this year should be targeted in this already unstable region is alarming,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder and bring those responsible to justice in order to demonstrate that journalists cannot be assassinated with impunity.”

Mujahid, an ethnic Punjabi, had received several telephone threats after writing about the killing of Baluch leader Balach Marri in November last year, according to the Pakistani Federal Union of Journalists. Akbar-e-Jehan, published by the Jang media group, is one of the largest weekly Urdu-language magazines in Pakistan. Mujahid was also a photojournalist.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province in southwestern Pakistan, where ethnic Baluch militants are engaged in protracted combat with government forces for political autonomy and local resources.