Pakistani TV reporter shot dead

New York, August 14, 2009–Security forces should immediately investigate today’s shooting murder of TV journalist Siddique Bacha Khan in the city of Mardan in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. 

Unidentified gunmen ambushed Bacha Khan, news correspondent for the independent Aaj TV channel, and shot him at close range before fleeing the scene, the channel reported on its Web site. The journalist was critically injured and died en route to the hospital, according to Aaj TV and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

The shooting took place early this morning as he was on his way to work, the reports said. It is not clear whether the murder was related to his reporting.

“Siddique Bacha Khan’s murder must not go unpunished,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The lack of official investigation into attacks on journalists is only contributing to a rapidly deteriorating security situation for the press in Pakistan’s northwest.”

Pakistan‘s frontier is a dangerous region for journalists, who frequently risk attacks from Taliban militants and the government forces fighting them for control of the territory bordering Afghanistan, according to CPJ research. Troops fired on a journalist and his driver at a checkpoint in the area in June, and militants attacked and destroyed the homes of two journalists in the province’s Buner district in separate incidents in July. Shooting attacks on reporters are often left unsolved, with Pakistan ranking 10th worst in the world among countries where journalists are murdered with impunity, according to CPJ’s Impunity Index.