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IFJ concerned by threats to Khuzdar journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - April 12, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by reports of a series of threats levelled against the Khuzdar Press Club in Pakistan's Balochistan Province over the past 12 months.

The threats are in the form of letters, phone calls and the persistent presence of armed men at the club premises in the central Khuzdar district.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, reports the threats have been made by Baloch Musallah Difah Tanzeem (BMDT), a separatist organisation angered by local journalists' coverage of nationalist parties and politics.

The BMDT has also reportedly threatened individual journalists, demanding that they not report on events related to or organised by nationalist parties and groups, the PFUJ said in a statement on April 10.

The group also claimed responsibility for a hand-grenade attack on the Balochistan University of Engineering and Technology last month.

"Government authorities must act on their duty to investigate the threats against the Khuzdar Press Club and ensure the safety of its members and employees," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"The imperative to ensure the personal safety of journalists attending their local press clubs across Pakistan is especially acute, following December's devastating suicide bomb attack on the Peshawar Press Club in North-West Frontier Province."

The IFJ joins the PFUJ in calling on Pakistan's federal government and Balochistan's chief minister to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers in Khuzdar and throughout Balochistan, where media personnel contend with regular intimidation from separatist groups, nationalist forces, political parties and the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

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