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Media offices attacked in Karachi

Unidentified gunmen opened fire at the entrance of the offices of the Express media group in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh province on August 16, 2013, injuring the security guard and a female marketing staff member. The Express group personnel said they were not sure about the reason for the attack as they had not received any complaints, warnings or threats from any group about the content of their media stories.

At 11:20 am four armed men on two motorcycles fired around 30-40 bullets at the main gate of office building which houses the office of Express Tribune, an English-language newspaper, the Urdu-language paper Roznama Express and the Express TV news channel.

The injured included Raheela Zohair, staff member of the marketing department, and Mir Ali, a security guard. Ali is reported to be in critical condition while Zohair is stable.

The All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have condemned the attack.

All Pakistan Newspapers Society APNS president Mr. Sarmad Ali and secretary general Mr. Masood Hamid strongly condemned the acts of violence as an attempt to suppress the media by force and described the incident as a brutal
attack on freedom of expression and people's right to know.

The CPNE condemned the attack as "an assault on freedom of expression and freedom of media." An emergency meeting by CPNE's Sindh Committee on August 17, appealed to religious and political parties and civil society members to come forward and play their role in order to discourage intolerance and curb the mounting pressure on media groups. The meeting also stressed upon devising a joint strategy against terrorism, intolerance and incidents aimed at muzzling the press.

Condemning the attack, PFUJ President Pervaiz Shaukat and Secretary-General Amin Yousuf said the targeting of the media offices was tantamount to suppressing freedom of expression. They said that journalists throughout the country stood united and would not be bogged down by such cowardly acts. They demanded that the law enforcement agencies arrest the culprits and prevent such incidents in the future.

The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) strongly condemned the attack on the offices of Express Media. KUJ President Sajid Aziz termed the incident an open threat to the journalistic community which, he said, will not succumb to the pressure and continue carrying out its journalistic duties. He demanded that the criminals involved in the act of terrorism should be exposed and given an exemplary punishment, and the law enforcers should win the confidence of the media through the arrest of the terrorists at the earliest.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed solidarity with Express Media and advised the concerned officials to ensure the security of media organisation and its employees.

Police registered the criminal case on August 18.

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