Violence against Afghan journalists soars: watchdog

Kabul (AFP) –


At least 10 journalists were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2017, a 35 percent surge from last year, a media watchdog said Tuesday, with rampant violence on the rise in the war-torn country.

Taliban militants and the Islamic State group were behind most of the "direct and indirect" attacks on media workers in Afghanistan, the Afghan Journalists' Safety Committee (AJSC) said in a new report.

"In the first six months of 2017, 73 cases of violence against journalists were recorded, including 10 cases of killings, 19 beatings and 12 injured," the report said.

"Insurgent groups in provinces threaten journalists to self-censorship by telling them to either broadcast what they want or shutdown their stations," Najib Sharifi, the director of AJSC, told reporters.

The Afghan government accounted for 46 percent of violence against journalists in the first half of the year, limiting access to information and creating challenging conditions for the media, he added.

If the violence continues at the same pace, Afghanistan is on track for another record year of fatal attacks on journalists.

Last year the country suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists, according to AJSC, with at least 13 media workers killed -- 10 by the Taliban. That made it the second most dangerous place for reporters in the world after Syria.

In January last year, seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, which is often critical of the insurgents, were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing in Kabul in what the militant group said was revenge for "spreading propaganda" against them.

It was the first major attack on an Afghan media organisation since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, and spotlighted the dangers faced by media workers in Afghanistan as the security situation worsens amid a growing wave of militant attacks.