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Journalist shot dead by security forces

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Killing of Journalist in Pakistan's Swat Valley

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the killing of a journalist by Pakistan security forces in Swat valley, north-west Pakistan, on the evening of November 8.

Qari Mohammad Shoaib, a reporter for daily newspapers Azadi and Khabar Kar, was shot dead in Mingora as he returned home from work, reportedly because he did not stop his vehicle when signalled to do so.

Shoaib is the third journalist to be killed in Swat this year, said the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate.

Security forces admitted that Shoaib was killed "by mistake", according to the PFUJ. His vehicle displayed a press sticker and he was carrying a press card.

"There was no justification for direct firing on the car," said Mazhar Abbas, General Secretary of the PFUJ.

The IFJ joined the PFUJ and local unions in demanding that provincial and federal authorities conduct an immediate independent inquiry into the killing of Shoaib and arrest those responsible.

They also urged media owners to ensure all their personnel working in conflict zones receive adequate safety training and equipment.

Journalists around the country will rally on November 12 to demand greater security for media personnel in Pakistan's conflict zones. Meanwhile, members of local press clubs and unions in Swat staged a protest rally on November 9 to condemn the killing, and announced three days of mourning for Shoaib. The Khyber Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the PFUJ, was holding a protest demonstration in Peshawar today.

"Journalists in Pakistan's conflict zones are working under extreme pressures as they seek to report in the public interest from the country's zones of intensifying conflict, including the Swat valley," IFJ-Asia Pacific said.

"The killing of Qari Mohammad Shoaib yet again highlights the dangers for media personnel in Pakistan. Pakistan's security forces must be held accountable for Shoaib's death and be compelled to institute appropriate procedures to ensure such a tragedy does not occur again."

The IFJ, with the PFUJ as a partner, recently completed a series of safety training workshops for journalists and camera operators working in Pakistan's hot spots. Alongside the training, both organisations strongly urged Pakistan's media owners to take serious action to ensure their staff and freelance personnel are adequately prepared for reporting on civil unrest and war.

Swat valley, in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), about 150 kilometres north-east of Peshawar, has been the focus of a Pakistan army offensive against insurgents since August.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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