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Journalist killed in bomb blast; media workers abducted

A Canadian journalist was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on 30 December while travelling with four Canadian soldiers, reports Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).

Michelle Lang, 34, was working for the "Calgary Herald" and had been in Afghanistan for just a few weeks. She is the first Canadian journalist to be killed in the war in Afghanistan. Lang was embedded with Canadian troops reporting from the extremely volatile province of Kandahar.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that she was covering a provincial reconstruction team of soldiers and social workers working with Afghan civilians to help repair war damage.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said, "The growing number of cowardly, indiscriminate attacks by Islamist groups, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and Somalia, has greatly increased the dangers for reporters who take the risk of covering events close up." Lang was the seventh woman journalist to be killed in 2009, says RSF.

In a separate incident on 29 December, a French reporter and cameraman, along with their Afghan crew (a driver and fixer), were abducted by gunmen in the northeast province of Kapisa, reports RSF. The journalists are on assignment for the France 3 current affairs programme "Pièce à conviction." Kidnappings are becoming more frequent, says RSF, with a total of nine journalists abducted by criminal groups or insurgents in Afghanistan in 2009.

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