ISAF takes responsibility for Afghan journalist’s death

New York, September 8, 2011–The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said today that one of its soldiers was responsible for the July 28 death of a local journalist working for the BBC Afghanistan service and the Pajhwok Afghan News agency. The ISAF soldier, an American, told authorities that he thought Ahmed Omaid Khpalwak was an insurgent reaching for a bomb under his vest, and shot him dead, an ISAF statement said.

Khpalwak, 25, died in violence between insurgents and security forces when gunmen and suicide bombers targeted the governor’s office and police headquarters in Tarin Kot, capital of Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan.

“While war is always a dangerous assignment for journalists, all sides in the hostilities in Afghanistan should make every effort to minimize the risk to reporters who find themselves in the field of battle,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “It is encouraging to see the International Security Assistance Force accept responsibility for the death of a journalist.”

With 23 journalists killed in direct relation to their work since 1992, Afghanistan ranks 10th in the world in the number of journalists killed for their work, CPJ research shows. Twenty have died since the escalation in hostilities after the September 11 attacks on the United States. International journalists and local journalists working for international outlets make up a large majority of those killed, according to CPJ research.