New York, October 27, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Pakistani authorities to swiftly investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of multiple attacks against journalist and news organizations in the country this week. Journalist Ahmed Noorani was badly beaten in Islamabad, and three different attacks were reported in the southwestern Balochistan province amid threats to news organizations and distributors from militant groups.
“These repeated brutal attacks show once again that nowhere is safe for journalists or news workers in Pakistan,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said from Washington D.C. “Pakistani authorities must assure that these attacks on press freedom come to a halt by swiftly finding and punishing those responsible.”
Six unidentified assailants on motorcycles today pulled Noorani and his driver, Mumtaz, out of their car and attacked them with knives and iron rods, according to local reports.
According to The New York Times, both sustained injuries to the head and were taken to a hospital for treatment, where Noorani was initially placed in the intensive care unit. The journalist will stay overnight in the hospital for observation, according to the television station Geo News.
Mumtaz was in stable condition following the attack, and filed a first information report with the police, which is the first step in a police investigation in Pakistan, Dawn reported.
Noorani is a senior reporter for The News, a prominent Pakistani newspaper, and has been reporting on allegations made against Pakistani politicians in the Panama Papers case. The journalist is known for his critical views of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, according to The New York Times.
Noorani had recently received threats due to his reporting, according to The New York Times. As a precaution, he moved from Rawalpindi to Islamabad earlier this year, and deactivated his Twitter account earlier this month, according to The New York Times.
Police are investigating today’s attack, according to Geo.
Separately, in the Balochistan province, militants launched two grenade attacks over the past two days that injured at least eight people, according to the newspaper Dawn.
In the city of Turbat, militants yesterday threw a hand grenade at the Pak-News agency that injured eight people, including one media worker, according to Iqbal Khattak, the coordinator of Pakistan’s Safety Hubs, which promote journalist safety.
Militants also threw a hand grenade at the press club in Hub, a town on the outskirts of Karachi, on the night of October 25; no one was injured, according to The Express Tribune newspaper.
Additionally, yesterday in the city of Awaran, militants attacked a vehicle that was carrying newspapers, shooting at it, bursting its tires, and torching the newspapers, according to Dawn. No one was injured.
These attacks come after militant organizations threatened newspaper distributors earlier this week, and demanded the media outlets publish the groups’ statements, according to Dawn. Following the threats, many distributors refused to take papers, both local and international, to the Balochistan province, Dawn reported.
CPJ has documented the wide array of risks journalists in Balochistan face. Pakistan was eighth on CPJ’s 2016 Impunity Index.