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More journalists' homes destroyed, damaged in ongoing conflict

Homes of Journalists Destroyed in Pakistan

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 14, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely concerned by acts of violence and intimidation targeting journalists in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, after the family homes of two journalists were bombed by militant insurgents.

According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, 50 hooded militants connected to groups linked under the banner of the Taliban approached the house of Rehman Buneri, a Voice of America Deewa Radio reporter and Karachi bureau chief of AVT Khyber Television, on July 8 and warned his family that they had been told to raze the building.

Buneri's house is located in Polad village near the border of Swat Valley and Buner districts.

A militant reportedly told Buneri's father that the instruction to destroy the property came from "high command" as punishment for an alleged smear campaign against the Taliban which was broadcast on radio by Buneri. All family members were evacuated before the attackers looted and bombed the building.

In a separate incident on July 8, GEO TV Peshawar correspondent Behroz Khan reported his ancestral house in the village of Bilo Khan, near Pir Baba, was raided by militants. They stole valuables before setting the house on fire and using explosives to blow up the building's supporting pillars. Security officers reportedly witnessed the event but did not intervene.

Further, in early July, the home of Hafiz Wazir, one of the few journalists still living and working in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), was damaged in a bombing raid as the war in the Wana tribal area intensified.

The President of the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ), Muhammad Riaz, said a delegation of the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) met officials of the Federal Government in June to raise their concerns about security for media in the area, and a tribal commission has since been set up by the Government to assess damages to the homes of media personnel in FATA. The TUJ has urged the Government to pay compensation to those whose homes or property have been damaged as a result of the war.

The PFUJ, the Khyber Union of Journalists and the Peshawar Press Club all expressed concern over the increasing incidence of attacks against journalists for their reporting of the battle between militants and Pakistan's security forces.

"Over two dozen journalists have already lost their lives at the hands of the militants yet the entire society, human rights activists, political parties, media owners and the Government are playing the role of silent spectators," the PFUJ said.

The IFJ joins the PFUJ and its affiliate unions in calling on Pakistan's Government and authorities to ensure the perpetrators of violence against journalists are brought to account, and to provide every security precaution and protection measure to journalists who continue to report on the conflict at serious risk to their personal safety.
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