Bangladeshi journalist fatally shot covering street battles

Washington, D.C., February 3, 2017–Bangladeshi authorities should vigorously investigate and bring to justice those responsible for killing Abdul Hakim Shimul, a journalist for the daily Samakal newspaper, who died today from gunshot wounds sustained while covering political unrest yesterday, according to news reports.

Violence broke out yesterday between rival factions of the ruling Awami League, namely supporters of the mayor of the northern Bangladeshi city of Shahjadpur and his opponents from another faction of the party, according to news reports. Some 15 people were injured in the fighting.

Shimul was shot in the head and face while covering the incident for his newspaper, according to news reports, which said that police seized the weapon and identified its owner. Shimul was taken first to a local clinic for treatment, and died while being moved to a hospital in the capital, Dhaka.

“This shooting took place before many witnesses, and police have reportedly seized the weapon and identified its owner,” said Steven Butler, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “There can be no excuse for failing to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Journalists gathered at the nearby Ullapara Press Club today called for Shimul’s killer to be executed, according to Samakal . The journalists also called for a general strike in Shahjadpur on Saturday.

Since CPJ began keeping records in 1992, at least 20 journalists have been killed in Bangladesh in direct relation to their work. In addition to Shimul’s death, CPJ is investigating the deaths of another nine journalists to determine whether they were related to the journalists’ work.