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BBC journalist killed in the south of the country

Reporters Without Borders

Monday 9 June 2008

Reporters Without Borders today expressed deep sadness at the murder of Abdul Samad Rohani, 25, a journalist working for the Pashtu service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

The journalist’s body was found near the city of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, one day after he was kidnapped. The previous day, 7 June, a contributor to BBC radio and television was killed in Somalia.

Rohani disappeared after his vehicle was stopped by armed men in the suburbs of Lashkar Gah. His body was found with three bullet wounds the following day. A pathologist said the journalist appeared to have been tortured before he was killed.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the journalist’s family and colleagues. Abdul Samad Rohani was typical of many contributors to the BBC who risk their lives to ensure the independence and pluralism of news in their countries. They cover fighting in the south of Afghanistan despite the risks and report on atrocities against civilians,” the organisation said.

Samad Rohani was the head of the BBC’s Pashtu service in Helmand province. He had also worked with the Afghan independent news agency Pajhwok since 2004. His colleagues told Reporters Without Borders that he had received several phone threats from a local chief who accused him of supporting the Kabul government and of “boycotting” news put out by the Taliban. Rohani’s home was the target of an attack in his absence in 2006.

“He was one of our best journalists. He covered a very difficult region. It is a serious blow for press freedom, but they will not manage to silence people with these kinds of acts” said Lotfolah Latif, editor for the BBC in Afghanistan. Danish Karokhel, director of Pajhwok, told Reporters Without Borders of his fears for the safety of journalists who “come under a huge amount of pressure for their independent and impartial work”. The Afghan authorities strongly condemned “this vicious murder”.

In 2007, Sayed Agha and Adjmal Nasqhbandi, driver and guide for Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo, were killed by the Taliban in Helmand province.

Nasteh Dahir Farah working for the BBC in Somalia was killed yesterday, shot dead by armed men as he returned from work to his home in Kismayu, southern Somalia. His killers have not been identified.

RSF website

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