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Pakistani journalist escapes murder attempt but driver killed, guard injured

Raza Rumi, a columnist and an anchor for the Khabar Se Agay news programme broadcast on Express News, was attacked by unidentified armed men on March 28, 2014 at about 8:30pm. The incident took place in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province.

The car driver was killed and a security guard sustained serious injuries in the attack while the journalist remained unhurt. This was the fifth attack on the Express media group during 2013-14. As of March 31, no one had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack took place just a few hundred yards away from the Express News office. Rumi, along with his security guard and driver, had just left the studio after hosting his programme. When they reached an area near a
private hospital unidentified men, apparently waiting for him, opened fire on his car.

The driver, identified as Muhammad Mustafa, 25, was shot eight times on different parts of his body, including the chest and head. He lost control of the car, resulting in a collision with an electric pole. He was rushed to the hospital where he died. The guard received two shots in the shoulder and is in stable condition.

Condemning the attack, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) in a press release, demanded that the culprits be identified and action be taken against the perpetrators of this crime. Expressing solidarity with the Express media group, the press release further stated that the increasing threat to journalists and media houses were attempts to prevent the media from performing its responsibilities. The representative body of the broadcasters reiterated its demand to the government to provide protection to all its member broadcasters.

Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) President Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami and Secretary General Dr Jabbar Khattak in a statement demanded the government immediately arrest the culprits and ensure their
speedy trial. They added that the CPNE had been urging the federal and provincial governments to take appropriate measures for the security and safety of journalists and the media house but no positive
action had been taken so far, while alarmingly terrorist activities against them were on the rise.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) condemned the attack and demanded stern action against the attackers.

The members of PFUJ and PUJ held a demonstration on Saturday March 29 in front of the Punjab Assembly and chanted slogans against the failure of government to provide safety to media.

Addressing the protest, PFUJ President Rana Azeem said "We stand by Express and announce our intent to stage a one-hour sit-in every day."

He also criticised political parties for not supporting the journalists' community and said the government had failed to provide foolproof security to media persons.

The Lahore Press Club's President Arshad Ansari said terrorists had focused on the media outlet.

On the call of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) and the National Press Club (NPC), hundreds of journalists assembled in front of NPC to show solidarity with Raza Rumi and the Express Media Group. They demanded the formation of a special investigation committee to probe the attack.

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