Washington, D.C., November 24, 2021 — The Taliban must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Ahmad Baseer Ahmadi and do everything in their power to protect the safety of members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 5:30 p.m. on November 18, in Kabul, the capital, two unidentified men beat and attempted to shoot Ahmadi, a presenter at the privately owned broadcaster Ayna TV, according to a report by the local broadcaster TOLO News and a person familiar with the incident, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal by local armed groups.
Ahmad was walking home when the men, whose faces were covered by black handkerchiefs, shouted, “Reporter! Wait and stop,” and demanded to see his identification card and asked him where he worked, that person said.
When Ahmadi asked the men who they were, they told him not to ask questions and demanded he unlock his phone and open his WhatsApp and Facebook accounts; when Ahmadi refused, the men beat him with pistols on his head, hands, shoulders, and back, the person said.
Ahmadi called for help and the men shot at him, but missed as the journalist fell to the ground; they then kicked him, breaking his jaw and teeth, and fled the scene, the person told CPJ.
“The Taliban has repeatedly failed to uphold its stated commitment to press freedom, as violent attacks against journalists continue and proper investigations or accountability are nowhere to be found,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The Taliban should reverse this trend by thoroughly investigating the attack on Ahmad Baseer Ahmadi, and holding the perpetrators accountable.”
Ahmadi was hospitalized for two nights following the attack, the person familiar with his case told CPJ.
That person said Ayna TV had stopped broadcasting following the Taliban takeover and recently resumed work in Afghanistan, and its content is now controlled by the Taliban. CPJ was able to locate examples of Ahmadi’s work at Ayna TV before the Taliban took control of the country; in June, he interviewed officials with the former Afghan government, and spoke to experts regarding violence against women and natural disasters. CPJ was unable to find examples of the journalist’s work after the Taliban takeover in August.
He previously reported on topics including the National Security Forces of the previous government for the privately owned broadcaster 24 TV.
Taliban deputy spokesperson Bilal Karimi did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.
In October, unidentified gunmen injured journalists Abdul Khaliq Hussaini and Alireza Sharifi in separate attacks in Kabul, and Taliban members beat and detained Zahidullah Husainkhil, as CPJ documented at the time.