New York, December 20, 2021 – The Taliban must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on journalist Jawed Yusufi, hold those responsible to account, and ensure the safety of Afghan reporters, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 5 p.m. yesterday, four unidentified men followed Yusufi, a reporter with the independent online Ufuq News Agency, while he was on his way home in the Dashte Barchi area of Kabul, the capital, and attacked him, according to a report by his employer and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
The men punched and kicked Yusufi repeatedly and stabbed him in the back several times while he was trying to escape, and then fled the scene, according to the journalist. He told CPJ that he was brought to two local hospitals that were unable to treat his injuries, and at about 1:30 a.m. today he underwent an operation for several hours at a third location, Kabul’s Ibne Sina Hospital.
Yusufi told CPJ that the men did not take anything from him, and during the attack one of them called him “the foolish journalist.”
“The Taliban must take swift action to apprehend the men behind the brutal attack on journalist Jawed Yusufi and bring them to justice,” said CPJ Asia Coordinator Steven Butler, in Washington, D.C. “Prosecuting those who attack journalists is an essential measure to assure any semblance of press freedom in Afghanistan.”
Following the incident, Yusufi called a Taliban spokesperson and reported the attack; a Taliban agent from Police District 13 met the journalist at the first hospital he was brought to, and asked if he was okay, Yusufi said. Taliban today authorities blamed “armed thieves” for the attack, according to news reports.
In a previous incident, on November 5, 2014, unidentified armed men in Kabul beat and punched Yusufi, while he was then working at the Arezo TV station, according to news reports. He subsequently received threats from people who said they wanted to torture and kill him, the journalist said. Yusufi told CPJ that, after that 2014 attack, he lived mostly in hiding and briefly stopped working as a journalist.
After the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, 2021, Yusufi worked for Ufuq News Agency from a hidden location, he said. His recent work has covered education, crime, the deteriorating free speech situation since the Taliban takeover, and the prospect of women’s resistance under the Taliban.
Ahmadullah Wasiq, a Taliban deputy spokesperson in Afghanistan, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.
On December 11, the director of the Taliban-controlled Kabul Directorate of Refugee Affairs, Abdul Matin Rahimzai, and his bodyguards detained and beat Afghan journalist Sayed Rashed Kashefi, as CPJ documented at the time.