Afghan TV anchor’s ‘brutal beheading’

2010-09-06 13:15

Kabul – A prominent Afghan television news journalist and political activist has been murdered near his Kabul home, police and media rights groups said today, describing the killing as a “brutal beheading”.

Sayed Hamid Noori, who was also deputy head of Afghanistan’s National Journalists’ Association, was found dead late yesterday.

“Someone called him and asked him to come down from his apartment last night. His body was found later by police in a tree-covered area near his home,” deputy Kabul police chief Khalilullah Dastyar said.

President Hamid Karzai ordered his interior minister to “seriously investigate the murder of Sayed Hamid Noori, a well-known journalist... and bring the culprits to justice”, a statement from his palace said.

Another media rights’ group, the Centre to Support Journalists (CSJ), said Noori had been stabbed and then beheaded.

“Mr Noori was beheaded and repeatedly stabbed all over his body,” CSJ said in a statement on its website.

Citing the local district police, the group also said Noori had been asked by telephone to meet someone.

“It appeared that he knew the caller as he walked quite a distance to meet him,” the CSJ statement said, citing police accounts.

Dastyar said Noori might have been killed by “a friend” because he willingly went to see the caller. He said a murder investigation had been opened.

Noori, 45, was a TV news anchor at the state-owned broadcaster RTA. He was also known for his political activism on behalf of groups opposed to Karzai.

In 2004, Noori temporarily left his job as a news anchor in RTA to become a spokesperson for Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Afghanistan’s parliament speaker, who also contested the last presidential elections won by Karzai.

In post-Taliban Afghanistan journalists have often been targeted by insurgents while Karzai’s Western-backed government has also been blamed for assaults on reporters.

Since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime in 2001, 27 journalists, 12 of them foreigners, have been killed, another media support group, Nai, said.

Sidiqullah Tawhidi, the organisation’s head, said it had recorded 252 “acts of violence” against journalists including murder, beating, imprisonment and other threats.

He blamed the Taliban and other insurgent groups for most of these.

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