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Three reporters freed but physical attacks on journalists continue

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a correspondent of the London-based "Guardian" newspaper, and two Afghan journalists were released unharmed on 15 December 2009 after being kidnapped last week near the Pakistani border in the northeastern province of Kunar.

The press freedom organisation, which did not previously reveal what it knew about their abduction to avoid jeopardising their security, is also concerned about several cases of violence against journalists in the past fortnight.

"The events of recent weeks have highlighted the dangers to which journalists are exposed in Afghanistan," Reporters Without Borders said. "These reporters bravely do their job in the extreme conditions that prevail both in hard-to-control border regions and in the capital. We urge the Afghan authorities to investigate the abductions and the cases of violence in order to identify those responsible."

Reporters Without Borders added: "We again call for measures to be taken to guarantee the safety of journalists and we urge all parties to the fighting to finally implement the recommendations we made in the mission report we issued last March."

In the most recent incident, Noorin TV journalist Nasto Naderi was attacked and badly beaten on 15 December by members of the security forces and was detained for several hours at his place of work.

Abdul-Ahad, the "Guardian" correspondent, and the two Afghan journalists accompanying him, who have not been named, were kidnapped on 11 December after travelling to Kunar province to interview militants. They were finally released after six days.

In yet another incident, reporter Nasir Ahmad and cameraman Sibghatullah, of the privately-owned TV station Sepehr, were preparing a report in Kabul on 3 December when they were beaten and then kidnapped for several hours by gunmen acting on the orders of Abdolbassir Mahbobi, one of the leaders of the "Islamic Revolution Movement." Their equipment was also damaged.

Although a complaint was filed by the TV station and the two journalists, no measures have been taken against their assailants.

Read the 16 March 2009 mission report

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