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TV reporter's house attacked with bricks

(PPF/IFEX) - Unidentified men attacked the residence of Azaz Syed, an investigative reporter for the English-language private television channel Dawn News, by hurling bricks at his house in Islamabad in the early hours of 19 January 2010.

According to a news report published in the daily "Dawn", Syed said that his younger brother woke him up at around 3 am after hearing a commotion outside their house. The attackers started hurling bricks at his house, terrorising family members. The attackers did not cause any physical harm to Syed or his family. His father went out after the situation calmed down and found the main gate locked from the outside, while the windscreen of the car was smashed. Syed said there were three attackers, two of whom hurled bricks while one stayed in a vehicle. Later, Syed contacted the police and registered a criminal complaint.

A statement issued by Dawn News TV said the attack happened after Syed was threatened by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sleuths over an investigative report he was preparing about the military action in terror-stricken areas.

A letter written by Dawn News TV to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said, "Prior to the latest incident of harassment of Syed, on two different occasions, officials who identified themselves as being from a secret agency have contacted the organization. In one instance, an official who introduced himself as Assistant Director of a secret agency visited our office and insisted on collecting personal information about our senior correspondent Matiullah Jan. On another occasion, correspondent Syed was asked to visit the office of the secret agency where he was questioned by senior officials about a story, which he was working on along with Jan". The letter further said that during the meeting with secret agency officials, Syed was told that a senior official of the secret agency was unhappy with him over the story.

Journalists covering Senate and National Assembly proceedings walked out in protest against the incident. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and senators from different political parties went to the press lounge and were briefed about the incident by journalists.

Malik promised that the culprits would be brought to book. He said he had asked the deputy inspector general (operation) to hold an inquiry and submit preliminary findings. After this assurance the journalists ended their walkout and returned to the National Assembly and Senate.

Afzal Butt, president of the National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad, and Ishfaq Sajid, vice-president of the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ), strongly condemned the incident and demanded a high level inquiry to unveil all those who were involved in the attack.
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