Washington, D.C., October 12, 2021– Pakistan authorities must thoroughly and swiftly investigate the killing of Shahid Zehri, hold those responsible to account, and do everything in their power to protect the safety of members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 10, Zehri, a reporter for the privately owned news channel Metro 1 News, was killed in an explosion while driving his car in the southern city of Hub in the Lasbela district of Baluchistan province, according to various news reports citing local police officials, and a report by his employer.
The Baloch Liberation Army, an ethnic separatist group, took responsibility for the attack in a press release posted to social media, accusing Zehri of working with the intelligence branch of Pakistan’s military and “committing various crimes using the noble profession of journalism” with the support of the Frontier Corps, a government paramilitary force that operates in Baluchistan province.
Zehri died shortly after he was transferred to a hospital in the southern city of Karachi, according to those news reports, which said that his companion was also injured in the attack. Police are investigating the killing, according to those reports.
“Pakistan authorities must waste no time investigating the targeted killing of Shahid Zehri, bring the perpetrators to justice, and not allow this killing to add to Pakistan’s growing list of crimes against journalists that go unpunished,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The dangers facing Pakistani journalists in Baluchistan are well known, making it inexcusable that authorities have been unable to establish a safe environment for the media.”
A local police official told Al-Jazeera that the explosion appeared to have been caused by a magnetic device attached underneath Zehri’s driver’s seat; however, Dawn reported that security footage showed that the car was hit by a roadside bomb. Both reports state that the killing appeared to be a targeted attack.
A representative of Metro 1 News told CPJ in a phone interview that Zehri covered general news and politics in Balochistan province and did not engage in investigative reporting. The representative said that he did not know of a particular report by Zehri that could have led to the attack.
CPJ emailed Tariq Ilahi, senior superintendent of the Lasbela district police, for comment, but did not receive any reply.
[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its sixth paragraph to correct Al-Jazeera’s characterization of the bomb’s alleged location.]