Two journalists were shot and killed when gunmen stormed their radio station in northeast Afghanistan, officials said.
Shafiq Aria and Rahimullah Rahmani, both in their 20s, were shot on Tuesday inside the studios of Radio Hamsada, a private broadcaster based in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack so far and an investigation was under way, provincial spokesman Jawad Hejri told the AFP news agency.
“Two unidentified gunmen entered the radio station’s office at around 6pm on Tuesday. They opened fire on two reporters who were behind their mics during a live programme. Both reporters died at the scene,” he said.
The attack is the second this year in war-torn Afghanistan targeting journalists. Last month, Afghan citizen journalist Jawid Noori was snatched from his car and murdered by the Taliban in Farah province in the country’s west.
Taliban and other armed groups have repeatedly attacked Afghan journalists, killing 15 in 2018, the deadliest year yet for the country’s media, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
US ambassador to Kabul John Bass said he was “saddened and angered” by the killings. “It is time to #EndImpunity for crimes against journalists. #PressFreedom,” he tweeted.
UN in #Afghanistan deeply concerned by reported shooting dead last night of two reporters in Takar’s Radio Hamsada. Perpetrators must be brought to justice. #TruthNeverDies #EndImpunity #JournoSafe Attacks on journalists are attacks on freedom of expression. pic.twitter.com/Tc7qDoUY0j
— UNAMA News (@UNAMAnews) February 6, 2019
Amnesty International described the attack as a “horrific crime” and urged the Afghan authorities to ensure protection for journalists so they could work safely.
“This attack once again highlights the risks journalists continue to face in Afghanistan for just doing their job,” the group’s South Asia researcher, Zaman Sultani, said in a statement.
Afghanistan’s Journalists Safety Committee called on the government to “identify the perpetrators and make sure that the justice is served”.
AFP’s photographer in Afghanistan, Shah Marai, was among 25 people killed along with eight other journalists in a bomb attack in April 2018.
Less than three months later, AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar was killed in another suicide attack on his way to work.
According to RSF, 60 journalists and media workers have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban regime, an average of around three a year.