Khalil Jibran
Protesters carry the coffin of slain Pakistani journalist Khalil Jibran on June 19, 2024. Unidentified gunmen shot Jibran, a reporter for broadcaster Khyber News, on June 18 in the Landi Kotal area of northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (Photo: Dawn)

Pakistani journalist Khalil Jibran shot dead following threats from militants

New York, June 20, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the continued killing of journalists in Pakistan, including six in 2024 thus far, and calls on the country’s authorities to swiftly investigate the fatal attack on veteran journalist Khalil Jibran and hold those responsible to account.

On the evening of June 18, unidentified assailants fatally shot Jibran, a reporter for the privately owned Pashto-language broadcaster Khyber News, in the Landi Kotal area of northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to news reports and the local press freedom group Pakistan Press Foundation.

Two armed men dragged Jibran, former president of the Landi Kotal Press Club, out of the vehicle and ordered three other individuals traveling with him to get out, stating they were not targets, according to those sources. The gunmen then opened fire on Jibran, killing him on the spot.

“Pakistan authorities must urgently bring those responsible for the killing of journalist Khalil Jibran to justice and take immediate steps to end the wave of violence against reporters in the country,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi. “The only way to reassure Pakistani journalists of their safety is for authorities to stop the cycle of impunity that allows these attacks to continue unabated.”

Police did not arrive at the scene until nearly an hour later, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported, citing information from local residents.

Jiban sustained 19 bullet wounds and an arm fracture, suggesting a physical scuffle had taken place between him and the attackers, Dawn reported, citing doctors at a local hospital. The journalist is survived by his wife and five children.

Qazi Fazlullah, president of the Tribal Union of Journalists and a reporter for broadcaster Geo News, told CPJ that local journalists were advocating for a judicial commission to investigate journalists’ murders amid a severe pattern of impunity.

Saleem Abbas Kulachi – district police officer of Khyber district, which encompasses Landi Kotal – told CPJ that no suspects had been apprehended as the early morning of June 21, but that a few people “have been made part of investigations.”

Jibran had received threats from militants over the past decade in relation to his journalism, Fazlullah said, adding that unidentified individuals attacked Jibran with a hand grenade in 2014 and planted an explosive device that did not detonate under his car in 2017.

Jibran had received a resurgence of threats over the past two years in relation to his reporting for Khyber News, in which he documented militancy with the help of government and army sources, Fazlullah said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has experienced a dramatic surge in militant attacks since the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, otherwise known as the Pakistani Taliban, exited a ceasefire with the Pakistan government in 2022.

Pakistan information minister Attaullah Tarar did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment.

At least five other journalists have been killed in Pakistan thus far in 2024, including Kamran Dawar, a journalist based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s North Waziristan district. CPJ is investigating the motives behind these attacks.

Editor’s note: This alert has been updated to include a response from district police officer Saleem Abbas Kulachi. The sixth paragraph was updated to correct the number of children.