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Two media workers killed in bomb attack; journalist kidnapped and tortured

A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Shiite procession in Quetta, Pakistan on 3 September, triggering chaos, killing two media workers and injuring eight other journalists, report the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). At least 64 people were killed and 185 injured. In a separate episode on 4 September in Islamabad, a journalist critical of the government was abducted and tortured.

Individuals at the Al-Quds rally, a protest in support of Palestinians, started firing in panic immediately after the blast. Angry protesters fired at media crews. Muhammad Sarwar, a driver for Aaj News TV, was struck by a bullet and died instantly. Aijaz Raisani, a cameraman for Samaa TV, was injured in the blast and also received two bullet wounds; he died on 6 September. Eight other reporters and cameramen were wounded. Journalists at the scene said some colleagues were wounded by the blast while others were injured by shots fired at them by demonstrators. There were also clashes with police and cars and motorcycles set on fire.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) pointed out that the media workers were not trained for a potentially lethal environment and no protective gear was given to them.

The next day, Umer Cheema, an investigative reporter for the English daily "The News", was kidnapped by 12 men wearing police uniforms in Islamabad. He was handcuffed and blindfolded, taken to an unknown place, stripped naked, beaten and hung upside down. The abductors warned him to stop writing about the government and threatened to target his colleague, editor Ansar Abbasi.

"The News" is highly critical of President Asif Ali Zardari and its journalists are often under attack, says RSF. The government has withdrawn state advertising from the entire Jang media group, which owns "The News".

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