A group of Afghan journalists at a gathering in eastern Nangarhar province on Saturday expressed their concerns over their safety and said threats against media workers have increased recently.
In a recent incident, an employee of a local TV network in Khost province – Zhman – was killed in an attack by armed men in Khost city on Friday. He was the fourth journalist who lost their lives in armed attacks so far this year.
“We call on President (Ashraf) Ghani as well as the local officials in Helmand and Khost provinces to take fundamental steps for safeguarding the lives of journalists,” said Shirshah Hamdard, head of Journalists Supporting Committee in eastern provinces.
The journalists said that besides threats by armed men, they are faced with threats by individuals within government.
“Journalists are targeted by armed groups. Also, some people in government who do not want the right voice to be raised, target journalists. Likewise, mafia groups are also a threat to journalists,” said Omid Didar, a reporter in Nangarhar.
Another reporter, Shakil Ahmad Saeed, called on government to take the threats seriously and address security challenges facing Afghan journalists and media workers.
“Putting pressure on media can be the only reason behind the kidnapping of the founder of Enekas Radio-TV network in the east,” Saeed said.
The Khost journalist, Sultan Mahmoud Khairkhwah, 60, was the fourth journalist killed in Afghanistan so far this year.
Last week, Nisar Ahmadi, a local TV journalist in Helmand, was wounded in an IED blast in Lashkargah city.
Shafiq Aria and Rahimullah Rahmani, local journalists in Takhar province in the north of Afghanistan, were killed in an attack by unknown armed men on their office in Taluqan city in February.
Another journalist, Jawed Noori, was killed in armed men’s attack in Farah province in January.
‘Worst Country For Journalists In 2018’
A report by the Kabul-based Journalists Safety Committee released in January shows that Afghanistan, with 120 cases of violence against journalists, has been ranked for the second time as the most dangerous country for journalists in 2018.
Security threats and lack of access to information continue to impede activities for reporting, the report says.
According to the report, Cases of violence against Afghan journalists in 2018 include 17 cases of murder and others mainly of beatings, intimidation and kidnapping.
The report says that 11 cases of violence were recorded against female journalists.
Kabul was the most dangerous place for journalists with 42 cases of violence, according to the report. Despite challenges for the media in Afghanistan, 57 new media outlets began activities in the country during 2018, the report added.
Figures by Afghan government show that there are 96 TV channels, 65 radio stations and 911 print media in Kabul, as well as 107 TV channels, 284 radio stations and 416 print media in other provinces.
The First Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish said last month that there are 1,879 active media outlets in Afghanistan. He said the freedom the press and the media are the main achievements of Afghanistan in the past 18 years and that they will not be ignored in the peace process.