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Local newspaper reporter missing in Balochistan, intelligence services suspected of abduction

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is worried about Javed Lehri, who went missing in the Khuzdar region of Balochistan province on 29 November 2007. Lehri works for "Azadi", a daily based in the provincial capital of Quetta. His family and colleagues think the intelligence services are responsible for his disappearance.

Aged 24, Lehri is a member of a Baloch student opposition party, but a journalist told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity that, "even if he belongs to this political party, his disappearance seems more linked to his work." "Azadi" editor, Mohammad Asif Baloch, said, "Lehri and his friend, Ibrahim Baloch, were without doubt kidnapped by secret service agents as they were returning home in Wadh Tehsil, in the Khuzdar region."

He said that some time ago Lehri was chosen to cover a rally organised by a political party to protest against the murder of Akbar Bugti, the head of the Baloch Nationalist Party. Someone opened fire on the police during the rally. "They fabricated an entire case against my reporter, claiming he was involved in this incident," his editor said.

The police have denied any role in his disappearance. But it has been established that the security services are holding hundreds of opposition members in Balochistan. Journalists have staged many demonstrations in Balochistan in support of Lehri since his disappearance.

An Urdu-language local newspaper, "Azadi" is one of the few Quetta-based publications to criticise the military's operations in Balochistan.

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