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Members of media team shot at by security forces

(PPF/IFEX) - Pakistan's security forces allegedly opened fire on June 9, 2009 on members of a media team of AVT Khyber, a Pashto TV channel, and a photographer of the English daily newspaper "Dawn", resulting in injuries to a cameraperson and a driver. The media team was on their way to cover events in Upper Dir, a volatile district of North West frontier province (NWFP) of Pakistan that is the centre of army action against the Taliban.

The AVT Khyber team included cameraman Malik Irfan, reporter Lehaz Ali, photographer Abdul Majeed Goraya of "Dawn" newspaper, and driver Mohammed Mushtaq. They registered with the authorities at Dargai and were allowed to proceed by the security forces deployed at Malakand Top. However, immediately after leaving the check post, security forces opened fire on the back of their car. Irfan was hit by a bullet in the shoulder while driver Mushtaq was shot in the back.

Both received first aid treatment at the security forces check post and were then rushed to Dargai Civil Hospital from where one of them was referred to Peshawar for treatment. The injured media workers are now out of danger.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed great dismay at the daily excesses of the security forces against the media and demanded a high level inquiry of the incident and action against those who are responsible for firing on the media team without any provocation and warning. The PFUJ urged the federal government and the Chief of Army Staff to take notice of the incident.

In a statement, PFUJ Secretary General Shamsul Islam Naz, pointed out that the media persons are in a constant threat and literally forced to give up their professional duties in the Swat, Dir, Malakand, Bunner and other areas of the NWFP where the armed forces are launching operations.

The PFUJ severely criticized the government strategy of keeping media persons away from the conflict areas and urged the government that instead of keeping the entire nation in the dark, to provide access to media persons to the restive areas and ensure foolproof steps for the security of the journalists.

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