A radio journalist has been killed in the southern Afghan province of Helmand in a targeted bomb blast, officials said, the second journalist to be killed in less than a week.
Elyas Dayee, who worked for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, was killed on Thursday in a blast from a bomb attached to his vehicle in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.
Omer Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor in Helmand province, said the blast also wounded three others, including Dayee’s brother.
Mohammad Saber Fahim, a freelance journalist based in Kabul, a friend of Dayee’s who also worked with him for more than 15 years as a freelance journalist, said it was a “great loss for the country”.
“He was a very good friend of mine. We were selected for a fellowship in England in 2008 and spent much of the time together there. Elyas never uttered a harsh word for anyone, he was a very passionate journalist and always helped others. We are all mourning his death,” Fahim said.
“Journalists are living in fear here, we can be targeted by anyone. I could be next.”
Safety of journalists
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission condemned the attack in a statement on Thursday calling it an attack on the right to freedom of media and expression.
“The Human Rights Commission strongly condemns the attack on Elyas Dayee and his assassination, calling it a violation of international human rights and an attack on the right to freedom of the media and expression,” it said, adding the commission calls for an investigation into the crimes committed against all journalists in the country.
Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC) in a statement posted on twitter also called for an immediate investigation into the attack.
“The Afghan government should take serious measures towards safety of journalists. AJSC also requests Afghan media and journalists to put safety as their highest priority. Killing of journalists must stop!!!”
The killing comes days after a local journalist, Yama Siawash, was killed when a bomb attached to his vehicle exploded near his residence in Kabul.
Siawash, who recently joined Afghanistan’s central bank as an adviser, was a prominent political and current affairs presenter with TOLOnews, the country’s biggest private TV channel.
Hundreds of comments poured in on social media condemning the death of Dayee and highlighted the dire need for improving the safety of journalists in the country.
“This is part of an alarming pattern of increased threats and attacks on the media by the Taliban,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet.
“Elyas Daye had been receiving threats for some time to stop his reporting. Concerned countries need to push Taliban to immediately stop these threats and attacks.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
Dayee’s colleagues at RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan posted tributes to him on social media calling him “one our best ones in the Radio”.
We lost another colleague today 😭😭Elyas Dayee @DaRadioAzadi @PazadiRadio reporter was killed this morning in a sticky bomb explosion in Lashkargah, Helmand. He was one our best ones in the Radio. The pain is unbearable 😭😭😭😭RIP brother. pic.twitter.com/MWVsNI4LSi
— Rateb Noori (@RatebNoori) November 12, 2020
Others remembered his “signature smile”.
My colleague and dear friend, Elyas Dayee, lost his life in a terrorist attack this morning in Lashkargah. He was gentleman. Always had signature smile. This is a terrible news. Elyas, you will be remembered dearly. pic.twitter.com/C2rf8Baw5S
— Sami Mahdi (@Samiullah_mahdi) November 12, 2020
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has moved Afghanistan to the fifth place among 12 countries in which journalists are murdered and their killings are not investigated.
The CPJ has documented 48 journalists that have been killed since 2001.
Nai, a non-governmental organisation to promote independent journalism in Afghanistan, has documented the killings of 120 media workers and journalist across the country since 2001.
Fifty-seven journalists and media workers were killed across the world last year, the United Nations said in a report released early this month to mark the International Day to End of Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
#AFG our nations grief will eventually ease, but behind every lost Afghan is a mother, father, wife and children for whom the gap in their heart can never be made whole. Rest In Peace Ilyas Daiee. pic.twitter.com/sT9rXyz5eL
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) November 12, 2020