New York, December 22, 2009—A suicide bomber detonated an explosive today on the grounds of the Press Club building in Peshawar, in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan. Local and international media report that three, possibly four, people were killed, though none of the approximately 30 journalists waiting for a press conference to start on the upper floor of the building were injured. The Associated Press reported that 17 other people were injured.
The bomber was stopped at the front gate of the building by a police officer who had recently been stationed there following phone and text threats from militant and insurgent groups to Press Club and Khyber Union of Journalists officials in recent days. The New York Times reported that two of the dead were police officers and a third was an accountant for the club. The attack is one in a recent string of suicide and car bombings in Peshawar and many other parts of Pakistan that have targeted public markets, hotels, government buildings, and military and intelligence services offices.
Pakistan ranks as the fourth deadliest country in the world for journalists this year—behind the Philippines, Somalia, and Iraq, according to CPJ research.
“Local reporters in the border areas with Afghanistan have long been targeted by every side of the conflict and pay a heavy price for their work,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call on the government to protect press facilities, and on media employers to offer personal safety training and protective gear.”
In a five-part series in July, CPJ reported extensively on the plight of local reporters in Peshawar, the Federally Administered Frontier Areas, and the North West Frontier Province. Pakistan ranks 10th worst in the world on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index in terms of the lack of legal prosecutions of those who attack or kill journalists.