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Grenade attack on home of woman radio journalist

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

Grenade Attack on Home of Female Radio Journalist in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed at a report of a grenade attack on the home of a female radio journalist in Herat province, Afghanistan. It is the second attack on radio producer Khadija Ahadi's home in two weeks.

The Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), an IFJ associate, reports that unidentified gunmen threw a grenade inside Khadija's home on the evening of April 11. No casualties were reported.

Khadija is the deputy editor-in-chief of Radio Faryad and a producer of a talk show addressing political and social issues in Afghanistan. She also runs two programs called Oaqaikay be Sernawisht (Yacht Without Destiny) and Masoulin Kuja Tashrif Darand (Where are the Officials?) in which authority figures are expected to address complaints from the public.

Khadija told the AIJA that she had received anonymous calls over the past two months in which she was warned her to leave her job. On April 6, part of her home was destroyed in a similar attack.

She told the AIJA she was not sure of the motive for the attack, but is concerned that she is being targeted by people who do not think women have the right to work alongside men.

Radio Faryad, an independent radio station in Herat City, was established a year ago by Herat University journalism student graduates. Broadcasting 12 hours a day on FM 88.4, the station is known for its critical commentary of the Government.

Khalil Amiri, the station's owner and chief editor, told the AIJA that he had been questioned by the National Security Directorate on several occasions about the content of interviews and information in the station's programs.

"Independent media and the equal representation of women journalists are essential for the free flow of information and diversity of opinions needed for Afghanistan's successful democratic transition," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"The IFJ is very worried by the increasing efforts of hard-line groups to pressure Afghanistan's Government to bow to unreasonable demands that interfere with a free and independent media, especially in relation to the role of women as journalists and the portrayal of women in the media.

"The authorities must take immediate action to investigate the attacks on Khadija Ahadi and bring the perpetrators to account."

The IFJ supports the AIJA's call for a meeting with media owners and members of the Government to discuss the need to secure media independence and freedom despite the pressures from political, militant and religious groups.

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

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