Six injured in Pakistan attack believed to target journalist

New York, July 26, 2010At least six women and children were seriously injured late today after a group of unidentified attackers threw grenades and opened fire on a home connected to television correspondent Zafarullah Bonari, according to Pakistani journalists. 

Bonari, who works for ARY One World Television and Al-Jazeera, was not in the home at the time. The attack, reported initially by the Tribal Union of Journalists, came in the Bajaur tribal region of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. The identities of the victims were not immediately available, although they are believed to be members of Bonari’s family. The Hindi-language news website Samay Live said three suffered serious injuries.

“Local journalists in frontline situations like those along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border pay a notoriously high price for their commitment to journalism. Authorities in Bajaur must supply protection to Zafarullah Bonari and his family and address the lawlessness that allows journalists to be attacked with impunity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

Mazhar Abbas, deputy director of ARY One World Television, a 24-hour, bilingual news channel, confirmed the attack but said the station was still confirming details. “I’m not sure whether it was [Bonari’s] house or his cousin’s, but the report is correct,” Abbas said in an e-mail message to CPJ. Abbas said he believed Bonari was the target.

Attacks on journalists’ homes are not new. In a 2009 CPJ series, “The Frontier War,” Sher Khan Afridi, president of the Khyber Union of Journalists, said six journalists houses had been specifically targeted because they were the houses of journalists. The attacks came during a government military offensive to drive out Taliban militants from some of the tribal areas along the border. Afridi said he was sure the houses were hit by local militants because the invading army did not have the specific local knowledge of who lived where at the time.