Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar gunned down in Karachi

New York, January 13, 2011–Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar was shot and killed in Karachi this evening, shortly after covering gang violence in the city, according to several Pakistani journalists. At least two assailants intercepted Babar’s car at 9:20 p.m., shooting him multiple times in the head and neck, Geo TV Managing Director Azhar Abbas told CPJ. One assailant spoke to Babar briefly before opening fire, Abbas said.

Voice of America journalist Fazal Aziz, speaking to CPJ from Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where Babar’s body had been taken, said doctors told him the journalist had been shot five times.

“Wali Khan Babar’s death is the latest in a string of targeted attacks on journalists in Pakistan. The government has not addressed the problem in any meaningful way,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Pakistan has rapidly emerged as an area of extreme risk for reporters. They are targeted from all sides in the country’s disintegrating security situation.”

Babar was driving home after filing a report about gangland clashes in eastern Karachi. He had been covering a police search that ensued after a shooting in the area earlier in the day, his colleagues say.

Pakistan was the deadliest country in the world in 2010, according to CPJ data. The country also ranked 10th on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are regularly slain and authorities fail to solve the crimes.