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MILITANTS KILL REPORTER'S FAMILY

The family of a reporter who helped fellow journalists visit the site of a fresh conflict between local tribesmen and foreign militants was massacred in their home, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

Urdu-language "Inkishaf" reporter Din Muhammed had accompanied a group of visiting journalists to Wana, the main town in South Waziristan tribal agency along the Afghan border, on 25 March to meet with local tribal militant commanders and visit areas captured from Uzbek fighters, suspected to have links with al-Qaeda.

The Uzbek militants retaliated by attacking Muhammed's house on 1 April, and killing his brother, father and cousin in a gunfight. Muhammed's uncle was murdered in a public execution. Three other family members were also abducted, but Muhammed was not among them and is believed to be safe. Muhammed's editor, Syed Fayyaz Hussain Bokhari, told Reuters he was certain Muhammed and his family were attacked because of his work, especially his articles about the foreign militants.

Few journalists from outside the area have dared to travel to the remote area to report on the latest clashes between local Waziri tribesmen and Uzbek militants, who took refuge in Pakistan's tribal areas after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. Since early March, officials say that 250 people have died in the fighting.

"We were advised not to go to Wana. It is the most dangerous place," said Mushtaq Yusufzai, a reporter for the English-language daily "The News" and a cameraman for U.S. broadcaster NBC News, who was part of the group. "Muhammed assured us that we would be safe. But we were afraid that he would feel the consequences for doing his job."

A 2007 International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) investigation reveals reporting in Pakistan to be "more dangerous than ever." Nineteen journalists were murdered in Pakistan since 2000 and only in one case was the murderer brought to justice.

Visit these links:
- CPJ alert: http://tinyurl.com/2jyv4r
- RSF alert: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=21619
- IFJ "A State of Denial: The Crisis of Press Freedom and Journalist Safety in Pakistan": http://tinyurl.com/2m527e
- Reuters "Pakistani reporter safe in hiding": http://tinyurl.com/2eyf9b
- BBC "Pakistan's tribals": http://tinyurl.com/33hsyw
(10 April 2007)

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