Afghan journalist killed in Pakistan

New York, August 24, 2009–Authorities in Pakistan’s northwest tribal regions must immediately investigate today’s murder of Afghan journalist Janullah Hashimzada, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

A white car intercepted a public minibus carrying Hashimzada and a colleague, Ali Khan, in Khyber Agency near the border with Afghanistan, according to local and international news reports. The journalists, who worked for Afghan Shamshad TV, were returning from Afghanistan to Peshawar, the reports said. Three gunmen from the car fired on the journalists, killing Hashimzada and injuring Khan in the neck, according to The Associated Press. No other injuries were reported. Hashimzada also provided reports for AP, Pajhwok Afghan News agency and other news outlets, the reports said.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing and the motive was not known, according to news reports.

“Pakistani security forces must thoroughly investigate Janullah Hashimzada’s murder,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The government must combat the risks local and international journalists face in this volatile region by prosecuting those who carry out targeted attacks against them.”

Pakistan‘s restive northwest has grown as a militant stronghold since 2001 following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Taliban militants and security forces, warring for control of the seven tribal agencies in the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas, pose a threat to reporters, according to CPJ research.

Unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province shot and killed TV journalist Siddique Bacha Khan on August 14. In two separate incidents in July, two journalists said militants ransacked and destroyed their homes in retaliation for their reporting. Pakistan ranks 10th in the world among countries in which journalists are murdered with impunity, according to CPJ’s Impunity Index.