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Journalist gunned down in Pakistan, second in three days

(PPF/IFEX) - Mehmood Ahmed Afridi, 56, a correspondent for the Urdu-language newspaper Intikhab, was gunned down by unidentified men on a motorcycle on March 1, 2013. The incident occurred in Kalat district of the southwestern province of Balochistan. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Essa Tareen, president of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ), condemned the murder. He told PPF that Afridi was sitting in a Public Call Office (PCO) shop in the evening when two men riding a motorbike arrived on the scene and opened fire. The journalist was shot four times and died on the spot.

Condemning the killing, Tareen said Afridi was the fifth journalist killed in Balochistan in the last three months. "We are losing our colleagues for no reason," Tareen added, noting that despite continuous appeals to the government, the journalists of Balochistan have not received any help.

Afridi was also the president of the Kalat press club and had been working in journalism for about 20 years. He left behind a widow and four children.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the BUJ and other journalists staged a protest in front of the Quetta Press Club and demanded justice for the killing of their colleagues.

Two days before Afridi's death, another journalist who worked for Geo TV, Malik Mumtaz Khan, was gunned down near his home in Miranshah, the head quarter of North Waziristan, in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

Three journalists attacked in Swat

In a separate incident, three journalists were attacked by militants on February 26 at around ten pm while standing at the gate of the press club in Swat district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa province.

Journalists Fayyaz Zafar, a reporter for Voice of America and the Aaj TV channel, Shahzad Alam, a reporter for ARY News television station, and Murad Ali, a cameraman for the same television station, were standing at the gate of the press club when armed men travelling in a car opened fire on them.

Zafar told PPF that he was assigned two police officials for his security as he was attacked twice in the last few months. He has also received repeated threats from Taliban commander Raja Liaqat Ali. He said his guards retaliated and fired on the attackers forcing them to flee the area while the journalists were unhurt.

The police registered a case against the militant commander based on the journalists' complaint.

Following the incident, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and the Swat Press Club office-bearers and members condemned the repeated attacks on journalists in Swat and warned they would start a protest campaign if the attackers were not arrested within 24 hours of the attack. Local journalists also staged a demonstration in front of the Swat Press Club.

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