Radio journalist killed in Afghanistan

New York, October 17, 2016 — Afghan authorities should credibly investigate yesterday’s fatal shooting of a radio journalist in Qalat and swiftly bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Unknown assailants shot Yaqoub Sharafat, a journalist for the state-run broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan in the capital of southern Afghanistan’s Zabul province yesterday evening and fled the scene. The journalist died on his way to the hospital, according to press reports.

Zabul police have opened an investigation but so far do not have a motive or suspects, and no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, according to media reports.

“Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists,” said Steve Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We encourage police to consider Yaqoub Sharafat’s journalistic work as a possible motive for his killing. Justice will not be served until the perpetrators are found and convicted.”

According to CPJ research, at least two journalists have been killed in Afghanistan this year in direct relation to their work. In June, David Gilkey, an American photographer for the US public broadcaster NPR, and his Afghan interpreter, Zabihullah Tamanna, were killed by rocket propelled grenades while travelling in a military convoy in southern Afghanistan. In January, Nangarhar Radio and Television reporter Mohammed Zubair Khaksar was fatally shot in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. CPJ is researching whether the motive in his shooting and that of Sharafat was related to their work as journalists.

At least 27 journalists and media workers have been killed in Afghanistan since the United States and its allies invaded the country following the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to CPJ research. Afghanistan ranked seventh on CPJ’s 2015 Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The last two paragraphs of this text have been updated to clarify that the motive in the fatal shooting of two journalists this year is unclear.]