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Privately-owned radio station attacked by gunmen, equipment destroyed

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Gunmen Attack Independent Radio Station in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is appalled by an attack on Radio Zafar, an independent radio station close to Kabul, on March 28.

The Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), an IFJ associate, received reports from the head of the radio station that four unidentified gunmen illegally entered the station at 1am and tied up two security guards, before fire destroyed equipment at the station.

Radio Zafar manager Naijb Naseer told the AIJA, "The armed people entered the radio station and intentionally scattered the generator fuel on the equipment inside the studio and waited there until the equipment was destroyed by fire."

Radio Zafar was established in Pir-buland area of Paghman district, about 10km north-west of Kabul, in 2004 with assistance from Internews, a US-based media training organisation. The damage is reportedly estimated at US$30,000.

"A pillar of press freedom in any country is a free and independent media," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"The attack on an independent radio station is not only a setback for journalism in Afghanistan but also for the successful progression to democratic freedom for all."

The IFJ welcomes reports that the district police chief, Haji Abdul Razaq, confirmed the crime was being investigated. Efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice will send a clear message that local authorities will not tolerate attacks against the media.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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