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Shots fired at TV news crew

(PPF/IFEX) - On 4 February 2011, a reporting team from Dawn News, a private TV news channel, was fired upon by unidentified individuals. The incident occurred in Tehsil Jati, Thatta district, Sindh, Pakistan's second largest province. The team, which included senior anchor Syed Talat Hussain and cameraman Haider Ali, was attacked as it was reporting on the illegal seizure of land.

Ali told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that they were working on a programme depicting the impact of flooding on Sindh province. The cameraman said some villagers informed the news crew that Ghulam Qadir Malkani, a former advisor to the Sindh chief minister, had forcibly evicted them from their 200-acre land, which included their crop growing areas and homes. The team decided to investigate the story. One of the villagers led them to the area in question but stopped at some distance away, saying that he could not go any further because armed guards would detain and beat him. According to Ali, he and Hussain walked ahead. Hussain identified himself in a loud voice and called out but no one replied.

Suddenly, snipers opened fire on the news crew. A number of armed men also followed the team as it tried to flee. Hussain and Ali managed to escape to a safe area. The cameraman did not shut off his camera and he was able to record the incident.

According to press reports, sub-machine guns and other sophisticated weapons were used in the attack and the pellets from the rounds landed near the news team. Dawn News and journalists' organizations condemned the attack and called for an immediate investigation.

The governor of Sindh province, Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, also strongly condemned the attack on the journalists. Terming it an "unfortunate incident", he ordered the police to launch an inquiry and expose the culprits.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah ordered the Hyderabad regional police and Thatta district police to conduct an enquiry and submit a report.

Sultan Salahuddin Babar Khattak, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP), has also requested a report on the incident.

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