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IFJ Condemns Killing of Afghan Reporter

Tuesday 2 August 2011

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The Intern ational Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) in condemning the killing of journalist Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak in an armed attack in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan on July 28.

Khpalwak, 25, a reporter with the BBC Pashto Service, Pajhwok Afghan News Agency and the state broadcaster Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA), was killed in Tarin Kowt, the capital of the troubled province.

Up to 19 people were killed and 37 others injured in a coordinated triple bomb blast and shooting attack near the city’s market and the local RTA offices.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack but denied killing Khpalwak, according to the BBC. The Taliban alleges government forces shot Khpalwak as they tried to regain control of the area, while other reports suggest NATO forces may have been responsible.

The BBC has asked the NATO-led Intern ational Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to conduct an inquiry, due to conflicting reports about who fired the fatal shots.

AIJA President Rahimullah Samander said Khpalwak’s death underscores the extreme dangers faced by journalists in Afghanistan , where there has been a spike in violent attacks and assassinations in recent months.

“We strongly denounce this deliberate attack on a public broadcaster, which caused the pointless death of a courageous friend,” Samander said.

The attack followed a suicide bomb attack in Kandahar on July 27, and the assassination of President Hamid Kharzai’s half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai on July 12.

“The IFJ reiterates the AIJA’s condemnation of this targeted attack on a media organisation and calls for improved security measures to be implemented to protect journalists working in high-risk areas of Afghanistan ,” IFJ Asia -Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

The IFJ joins the AIJA in extending its condolences to the family and friends of Kapalwak.

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