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REPORTER SHOT DEAD IN CONFLICT ZONE

Security forces shot dead a journalist in Swat Valley, northeast Pakistan, last week, making him the third journalist to be killed in Swat this year, report the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and other IFEX members.

Qari Mohammad Shoaib, a reporter for daily newspapers "Azadi" and "Khabar Kar", was shot in Mingora near his home on 8 November, reportedly because he did not stop his vehicle at a checkpoint.

Security forces admitted that Shoaib was killed "by mistake," according to IFJ affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ). His vehicle displayed a press sticker and he was carrying a press card.

IFJ joined PFUJ and local unions in protests 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.

"There is a full scale army operation and insurgency in Swat Valley, Bajaur Agency and many parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Scores of people are being killed every day and the situation for everyone, particularly journalists, is intolerable and unbearable," said the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF).

Swat Valley, about 150 kilometres northeast of Peshawar, has been the focus of a Pakistan army offensive against insurgents since August. IFJ and PFUJ recently completed a series of safety training workshops for journalists and camera operators working in Swat and Pakistan's other hot spots.

Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://tinyurl.com/5wcygh
- IFJ on protests: http://tinyurl.com/55tcxw
- PPF: http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/
- Reporters Without Borders: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29250
- Committee to Protect Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/5dvka4
(12 November 2008)

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