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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 7, 2005
Posted: March 14, 2005

Amir Nowab, or Mir Nawab, Associated Press Television News, Frontier Post
Allah Noor, Khyber TV
Anwar Shakir, Agence France-Presse
Zardad Khan, Al-Jazeera

Gunmen in Pakistan's tribal area of South Waziristan fatally shot Nowab, also known as Nawab, a freelance cameraman for Associated Press Television News and a reporter for the Frontier Post newspaper, and Noor, who was working for Peshawar-based Khyber TV.

The journalists were on their way back from the town of Sararogha, where they were covering the surrender of suspected tribal militant Baitullah Mehsud.

A car overtook the journalists' bus at around 7:30 p.m. near the town of Wana, and assailants opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles, according to The Associated Press, which quoted Mahmood Shah, chief of security for Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Shakir, a stringer for Agence France-Presse, was wounded in the back during the attack and is in stable condition, according to news reports. A fourth reporter, Khan, who was working for Al-Jazeera, was not seriously injured.

The Pakistani military has been cracking down on suspected al-Qaeda fighters in South Waziristan, a semiautonomous tribal region.

APRIL 14, 2005
Posted: April 27, 2005

Kamran Mumtaz, Daily Mashriq
Daily Mashriq

A group of five armed men stormed into the office of the Daily Mashriq in the southwestern city of Quetta around 2:30 p.m. and assaulted Mumtaz, the editor, because of the newspaper's allegedly biased reporting about a local political party.

The attackers identified themselves as being members of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), and stormed past a security guard who tried to stop them, the state-run Pakistan Newswire reported. Two of the men stood guard while the three others forced their way into Mumtaz's office where they punched the editor in the face with brass knuckles, according to the Pakistan Press Foundation, a local press freedom group. The armed men ransacked the office, threatened the staff, and directed them change their coverage of the JWP. The assailants took out a gun and aimed it at Mumtaz, but were scared off by security guards. Mumtaz received treatment at a local hospital.

A complaint was filed with local city police against the unknown gunmen. The JWP denied any involvement.

Local journalist groups and government officials condemned the attack and staged an April 18 protest calling for arrests of the assailants. Police clashed with some of the protesting journalists during the demonstration, the Pakistan Newswire reported. The journalists reported being blocked and manhandled as they marched through the streets of Quetta.

APRIL 15 and 16, 2005
Posted: May 3, 2005

Numerous journalists
Mazhar Tufail, Geo TV
Malik Munawar, Asas Karachi
Tasadduk Ghouri, Janbaz Karachi
Yaseen Jabalpuri, APNA TV

Police harassed and attacked journalists covering activities of the opposition Pakistan People's Party's (PPP). About 50 journalists traveling with Asif Ali Zardari—opposition leader and husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto—on his flight from Dubai to Lahore on April 16 were surrounded by police as they exited the plane and forced to surrender their camera equipment, audio recorders, and mobile phones, according to local journalists.

Those who resisted were slapped and abused by the police; Mazhar Tufail of Geo TV was beaten and held in police custody for two hours, the news Web site South Asia Tribune reported.

The journalists staged a sit-in at the airport for several hours to protest the abuse and the confiscation of their gear. When police finally returned the journalists' equipment, all of their recordings had been erased and memory cards had been removed, according to local press accounts. An airport security chief told a reporter from The Guardian of London that police were acting on orders. Police warned other journalists that they were given instructions from "the top" to take the equipment, the South Asia Tribune reported.

In the run-up to Zardari's arrival, thousands of police took to the streets of Lahore to block rallies by PPP supporters. Communication towers were also shut down, disrupting cell phone service, CNN reported.

On April 15, police in Karachi attacked PPP activists trying to board a train to Lahore, wounding several activists and journalists who were covering the day's events. The Pakistan Press Foundation reported that three journalists were taken to the hospital for treatment: Malik Munawar, of the daily Asas Karachi, Tasadduk Ghouri, of Janbaz Karachi, and Yaseen Jabalpuri of APNA TV. A spokesman for the All Pakistan Newspapers Society said that police also detained several journalists and grabbed cameras from photographers at the train station.

Journalists' groups condemned the rash of attacks, and reporters covering Pakistan's parliament, the National Assembly, boycotted the session yesterday in protest.

"These blatant obstructions of the free flow of information inside Pakistan make a mockery of official claims of press freedom," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. "Journalists must be allowed to cover the news safely and freely without fear of abuse and confiscation of their equipment."

MAY 3, 2005
Posted: May 4, 2005

Many Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the attacks by police on journalists in the cities of Lahore and Islamabad. During peaceful demonstrations in honor of World Press Freedom Day, approximately 50 journalists were injured when police baton-charged demonstrators marching in the center of Lahore, and as many as 60 journalists were forcibly detained for two hours at a police station in Islamabad, local journalists told CPJ.

Around 200 journalists staged a peaceful rally in Lahore, the capital of the eastern Punjab province, marching through town with banners and slogans. As they approached government buildings in the center of town, police attacked them without warning or provocation, beating them with batons, according to eyewitnesses.

Meanwhile, in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, another group of reporters and photographers assembled near the parliament building chanting slogans that called for wage reform and press freedom. Dozens of police officers descended on the journalists, herding them into cars and vans and detaining them at a nearby police station. They were held for two hours before being released without explanation, according to local journalists.

Local sources say that the Information Minister and the Interior Minister denied staging an official crackdown on the press.

DECEMBER 23, 2005
Posted January 4, 2006

Armed men threw a gasoline bomb into the offices of the Sindhi-language daily Khabroon in the southern city of Sukkur, setting the reception area on fire, according to local news reports. The attackers threatened the newspaper staff, including journalists, and fired shots into the office.

Imtnan Shahid, an editor of the parent group Khabrain, accused Sindhi nationalist activists of perpetrating the attack in opposition to state-sponsored advertisements in Khabroon promoting the building of a controversial dam, according to the Karachi-based Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF). The newspaper was one of a handful of Sindhi-language publications carrying the ads, which were part of a broad government campaign to rally public support for the Kalabagh Dam project.

Copies of Khabroon were also burned in other cities, including Mirpurkhas, Ghotki, Waro and Thal, according to PPF.

The staff of the newspaper later walked out in protest at the management decision to accept the government advertisements.