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Three journalists die, two in twin suicide blasts

Two journalists who were covering an anti-terrorism strategy discussion at a council meeting in the northwest Pakistani border town Ghalanai were killed on 6 December in a double suicide bombing, report the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and other IFEX members.

Abdul Wahab, a reporter for Express News TV and a former general secretary of Ghalanai Press Club, and Pervez Khan, a reporter for Waqt News TV, were among at least 50 people killed when two suicide bombs went off in front of the headquarters of the Mohmand Agency tribal district. Another journalist, Mohib Ali of NNI news agency, was injured, along with at least 100 other people.

According to press reports, two suicide attackers dressed in paramilitary uniforms blew themselves up in the midst of a large crowd that included tribal elders and peace committee volunteers.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a reaction to the military operation in the Teshil Safi area of Mohmand Agency. Taliban leader Umer Khalid also threatened more attacks on anyone joining military operations against them.

Colleagues say Wahab and Khan were preparing a report on the plight of displaced people at the time of the attack, reports IFJ.

Following the bombing, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) reiterated its demand that parliament immediately devise a Media Practitioners' Protection and Media Managers Responsibilities' Act. Under the act, employers would be responsible for ensuring their personnel are trained and equipped for working in Pakistan's volatile areas.

PFUJ announced it would observe three days of mourning, hoisting black flags and holding condolence meetings at press clubs, unions and news centres throughout the country.

In an unrelated incident, journalist Altaf Chandio was shot dead by gunmen at his home in Sindh on 5 December, report IFJ and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Chandio was the president of the Mirpurkhas press club in Sindh and bureau chief of the private Sindhi language channel Awaz. It is not known if the motive was related to his work.

IFJ and RSF say Pakistan is the most dangerous country for journalists in 2010, with at least 11 journalists and media personnel killed so far this year.

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