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Police attack media personnel

(IFJ/IFEX) - October 8, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes efforts by its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), to engage in constructive dialogue with Afghanistan's Interior Ministry after a series of attacks by police on journalists this week.

Wahkt News Agency (WNA) cameraman and photographer Mohammad Naeem was brutally assaulted by police from Kabul's district four on October 5 while he was documenting the murder of a businessman and two security personnel by unidentified gunmen wearing military uniforms, AIJA sources said.

The police reportedly confiscated Naeem's camera and deleted all images related to the incident before beating him and holding him in detention for almost an hour. Naeem was released and the camera returned to him after AIJA and WNA representatives complained to Interior Ministry spokesman Zalmay Bashary.

Earlier, Tamadon TV journalist and cameraman Mahmood Fayez was also reportedly assaulted by police from Kabul's district two on October 3 as he was filming for a Tamadon TV program.

In a press conference on October 5, AIJA President Samander Rahimullah called on Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar to honour the Government's pledge to ensure better cooperation on the rights of journalists and media workers. The pledge was made in an official letter to the AIJA in which the Government condemned police assaults on journalists.

"We call on the Interior Ministry to bring those responsible for the most recent attacks into account," Samander said.

In unrelated incidents, two journalists from the Aman FM (Peace FM) station situated near the military base of the United States Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kamdesh district in eastern Nuristan province reportedly have been held captive by insurgents since October 3. The abduction occurred after an attack by insurgents on the district centre. Eight American soldiers were reported killed in the attack.

Kamdesh officials reportedly deny knowledge of the identity of the two journalists.

Peace FM has been operating for six months and is fully funded by the Nuristan-based PRT, broadcasting programs in local languages from the district.

AIJA local offices in Kunar and Nuristan are working to ensure the unconditional release of both journalists, AIJA said.

The IFJ joins AIJA in calling on the Afghan authorities to ensure all local and national police are made aware of and adhere to the Government's stated commitment to promote freedom of expression and information.

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