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IFJ mourns BBC journalist killed by NATO forces

(IFJ/IFEX) - 09 September 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that the killing of BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, who was shot dead by a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, is a reminder of the risks for journalists who are working in conflict zones.

ISAF has admitted that the journalist was killed in July by a US soldier who mistook him for an insurgent during a firefight at the Afghan Radio Television (RTA) station.

"We note ISAF's admission but urge all sides to the conflict to ensure that media facilities are not turned into combat zones," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This tragic incident must be properly assessed to serve as a lesson for future interventions on premises where journalists and media staff work."

In a statement, ISAF said Omed, of the BBC Pashto service, was shot by a soldier who feared he was an insurgent about to set off a device. The shooting occurred as soldiers were clearing the RTA building of militants, two of whom had detonated bombs injuring soldiers. According to some reports, the journalist was attempting to produce his press card when he was killed.

The BBC reacted to the admission, recognising that "ISAF had provided clarification, ending a period of uncertainty, but it would study the details of the findings on receiving the full report."

The IFJ says that this latest deadly incident shows the urgency of finding ways to provide journalists with adequate protection. The Federation plans to push for concrete measures and commitments by governments to protect media during the forthcoming United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity which will take place next week in Paris.

"The death of Omed in such violent circumstances is one too many and we must resolve to act in the defence of journalists' safety with more vigour and purpose than ever before," added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary.

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