Archive of Brief News Alerts

Fisk, his Independent colleague Justin Huggler, driver Amanullah, and translator Fayyaz Ahmed were driving past Kila Abdullah, near the Afghan border, when their car broke down. A large crowd gathered around the car and started throwing stones and hitting Huggler and Fisk. As the two reporters tried to board a bus, Fisk was dragged off, beaten, and kicked by about 60 men. The assailants were mostly Afghan refugees, according to Fisk

• December 10, 2001–On December 8, Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the London daily Independent, was severely beaten by Afghan refugees in the village of Kila Abdullah in western Pakistan.

• December 6, 2001–Several news organizations have protested the Pentagon’s decision to refuse journalists access to soldiers injured by a misdirected American B-52 bomb north of Kandahar. Three U.S. special forces soldiers and five anti-Taliban Afghan fighters were killed by the bomb.

On December 5, journalists at a Marine base in southern Afghanistan were confined to a warehouse while injured soldiers were transferred to the base for treatment. That night, the journalists were pulled out of Afghanistan altogether.

The reporters, who entered the Marine base on November 25, were the first journalists allowed by the Pentagon to accompany U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They were from The Associated Press, The Baltimore Sun, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Gannett, The Washington Post, and AP Television News. Under the terms of the arrangements made by the Pentagon, the journalists were required to pool their reports with other news media.

Jonathan Wolman, executive editor of The Associated Press, told the AP that defense department policy “allows for coverage of casualties, but it was subverted in this case.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged today that U.S. officials had “not handled the matter perfectly” and stated that “the media should have access to both the good and the bad in this effort.”

• December 3, 2001–CPJ welcomes the December 1 release of Ken Hechtman, a Canadian free-lance journalist whom Taliban authorities detained for four days in the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak. The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for holding Hechtman, and suggested he had been kidnapped. Taliban official Mullah Aminullah said Saturday that officials had been investigating Hechtman on espionage charges, but were persuaded to release him after meeting with Canadian diplomats and Pakistani officials.

Prior to his detention, Hechtman had been filing regularly from the region for the weekly Montreal Mirror.

• November 28, 2001–The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is extremely concerned about the safety of Ken Hechtman, a Canadian free-lance journalist who is believed to be held captive in the border town of Spin Boldak. On November 27, a man who identified himself as Mohammedzai approached two Western journalists in the Pakistani border town of Chaman and told them Hechtman was being held for ransom These claims could not be immediately verified, and CPJ is investigating the case.[Click here for more details.]

• November 27, 2001–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague Ulf Strömberg, a cameraman for the Swedish channel TV4. He was murdered early this morning during a robbery at the house in Taloqan where he and several other journalists were staying.[Click here for more details.]

• November 26, 2001–On November 22, about 100 foreign journalists were expelled from Afghanistan by Taliban officials after being invited to visit areas of the country still under Taliban control. The reason for the expulsion is unclear, although a New York Times journalist present reported that the order followed a debate between moderate and hard-line Taliban officials over whether the journalists should be allowed to stay. [Click here for more details.]

• November 20, 2001
–CPJ today confirmed that four journalists were killed in Afghanistan on November 19 when gunmen ambushed their convoy near the town of Sarobi, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) east of Kabul.

Azizullah Haidari, an Afghan-born photographer for the Reuters news agency; Harry Burton, an Australian television cameraman for Reuters; Julio Fuentes, a Spanish correspondent for the Madrid-based newspaper El Mundo; and Maria Grazia Cutuli, an Italian journalist for the Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera, were dragged out of their cars by the gunmen and executed.

Colleagues identified the bodies of the journalists today in Jalalabad.

Altogether, seven journalists have been killed this year while covering the war in Afghanistan. Three foreign correspondents were killed on November 11 when the Northern Alliance convoy they were traveling with came under Taliban fire. [Click here for more details.]

• November 20, 2001–CPJ welcomed the recent release of Japanese free-lance reporter Daigen Yanagida by Taliban authorities. Separately, CPJ confirmed the release of four Pakistan-based guides who had been arrested along with the Western reporters they escorted into Afghanistan. [Click here for more details.]

• November 16, 2001–CPJ is deeply concerned about the U.S. bombing of the Kabul offices of Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based, Arabic-language satellite news channel.

Early Tuesday morning, U.S. aircraft dropped two 500-pound bombs on the building housing the station, according to a spokesperson at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa. No Al-Jazeera staff remained in the building at the time of the bombing, which destroyed the facilities.

U.S. Central Command spokesperson Col. Rick Thomas told reporters that the building was a “known al Qaeda facility in central Kabul.” However Mohammed Jassim al-Ali, Al-Jazeera’s managing editor, told The Associated Press that U.S. forces “know where we are located, and they know what we have in our office, and we also did not get any warning.” CPJ continues to investigate the circumstances behind the bombing.

• November 12, 2001–CPJ is deeply saddened by the deaths of three colleagues killed while reporting in northern Afghanistan.

Johanne Sutton, a reporter for Radio France Internationale; Pierre Billaud, a reporter for Radio Television Luxembourg; and Volker Handloik, a free-lance reporter on assignment for the German news magazine Stern, were killed on the evening of November 11 when Taliban forces fired on their Northern Alliance military convoy.

Taliban forces opened fire on the convoy and hit the convoy’s armored personnel carrier with a rocket-propelled grenade. Three journalists survived the attack: Paul McGeough, a reporter for the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald; Véronique Rebeyrotte, a reporter for France Culture radio; and Levon Sevunts, a reporter for the Montreal Gazette.

CPJ continues to investigate competing claims about how the journalists were killed. A Northern Alliance general told CNN that the bodies of Billaud and Handloik were found in a Taliban trench and suggested that the two had been “assassinated.” However, McGeough told CNN he does not believe the journalists were targeted.

CPJ is also investigating reports that an Afghan translator traveling with the group is missing.