Pakistan journalist assassinated

2012-01-18 10:01
Washington - A Pakistani radio and television reporter who had extensively covered militant attacks, military operations, and social issues in his country was shot dead on Tuesday in an apparent assassination, his employers said.

Mukarram Khan Aatif was a reporter for private television broadcaster Dunya News and Deewa Radio, a Pashto-language channel of the US government-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA).

He was shot by unidentified gunmen while at evening prayers at a mosque near his home in the town of Shabqadar, VOA said in a statement.

Dunya News said that Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a terrorist group, had "claimed responsibility for his killing".

Aatif died after being taken to hospital in the city of Peshawar.

Deadliest country

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) mourned the death, saying that Aatif, "despite fleeing his hometown could find no safe sanctuary in Pakistan's lawless landscape for journalists".

"Until Pakistani authorities take effective steps to investigate the murders of journalists and bring those responsible to justice, journalists must band together and plan for their common defence," said CPJ Asia co-ordinator Bob Dietz.

Selab Mehsud, a leading member of the Tribal Union of Journalists, demanded in an interview with Deewa Radio that the government investigate the killing and punish those responsible, VOA reported.

Aatif, who was in his 40s, had been "receiving life threats from unknown people", Dunya News said.

VOA quoted witnesses as saying that there were two attackers, one of whom waited outside the mosque on a motorcycle while a masked gunman shot Aatif in the head in the mosque.

Pakistan has been the deadliest country in the world for journalists, CPJ said. At least seven journalists were killed in direct relation to their work in 2011. Five of them were in targeted killings.

According to VOA, Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are blamed for the deaths of more than two dozen journalists since 2004.
- SAPA
Read more on:    pakistan  |  security
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