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Local journalist shot dead in southern Afghanistan

This statement was originally published on on 17 October 2016.

An Afghan journalist was shot dead in Afghanistan's southern province of Zabul on the afternoon of Sunday, 16 October 2016. This is the latest in a long list of unsolved murders of media workers in the country.

Mohammad Yaqub Sharafat, 23, was shot in the head and neck with a silenced pistol by unidentified gunmen while heading home from his office in the Resalee area of Qalat city, capital of Zabul province.

Local residents took Sharafat to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Besides being a journalist at the state-owned Afghanistan National Radio Television (RTA), Sharafat was also serving as a freelance reporter for some local media including Zabul Times.

Gen. Mirwais Noorzai, head of the Zabul police headquarters, said the assailants managed to escape, but he provided assurances that the police is investigating the incident and will bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. However, local journalists had previously received warnings from the Taliban militants.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) condemns this heinous act in the strongest terms and calls for the government to launch an urgent and proper investigation.

AFJC's records show that the attack on Sharafat brought to more than 64 the number of journalists and media workers killed in Afghanistan since the falling of the Taliban regime in 2001; with 11 dead just this year makes 2016 the deadliest year for the media community in Afghanistan.

"Unfortunately, the culture of impunity that is behind these attacks has yet to be addressed by the Afghan authorities. Despite their repeated boasts and promises, we can say, [that in almost all cases] the suspects have yet to be brought to justice," said Ahmad Quraishi, executive director of AFJC.

In January, seven media workers of Tolo TV channel were killed and about 16 others wounded after a Taliban suicide car bombing struck a minibus in the Afghan capital city Kabul. A week later, an RTA journalist was murdered by unidentified gunmen in Eastern Nangarhar province and in June two NPR journalists were killed while on assignment in southern Helmand province.

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