Radio reporter murdered in Afghanistan

New York, February 23, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Afghan authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of radio journalist Samid Khan Bahadarzai and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

Bahadarzai, 25, the manager of Melma Radio station in Orgun district, went missing on Tuesday evening, his colleague Yagub Manzoor told Pajhwok Afghan News. The journalist was found near his home in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, news reports citing police said. Several news accounts stated that the body was found decapitated, while Pajhwok reported that he had been stabbed and shot dead.

Police told reporters they were conducting an investigation into whether the journalist’s murder was linked to a phone call he received on Tuesday from unidentified men requesting a meeting, according to Agence France-Presse. Manzoor told local journalists that Bahadarzai had no known personal conflicts and had received no threats from militants.

“We mourn the death of Samid Khan Bahadarzai and extend our condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz. “Afghan authorities must act quickly to determine the motive and apprehend those responsible for this brutal murder.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied responsibility for the murder. “Mujahideen never kill journalists,” he told Afghan Islamic Press, according to AFP. “The Taliban can resolve matters by talking to them directly.”

Taliban militants have previously targeted journalists in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. In January, broadcast journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif was shot dead in Pakistan, and a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

Twenty-one journalists have been killed in Afghanistan for their work since the start of the war in October 2001, according to CPJ research. Nearly half of them were murdered.