Afghanistan: Former television journalist assassinated in Kandahar

Former television journalist Nemat Rawan was killed by gunmen in a targeted assassination in Kandahar city on May 6. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), remain deeply concerned about journalist safety and media freedom in Afghanistan.

Nemat Rawan was driving a vehicle on the road when two motorcycle riders pulled out their pistols and opened fired on him. He was killed on the spot. The gunmen escaped the scene and took his personal smartphone away.

Nemat Rawan hosted a talk show on the country’s leading broadcaster, TOLO News, before joining the ministry of finance as a communications specialist in April 2021. While no one is yet to take responsibility for the attack, the Taliban have been blamed for the recent wave of attacks on journalists in Afghanistan. The day before Rawan’s death, a Taliban spokesman said media workers who undertake “bias reporting” would be “held responsible”.

On the other hand, the chief of Afghan intelligence agency Ahmad Zia Saraj said in a closed-door parliament hearing that some journalists and analysts work in favor of the Taliban and that his agency would not tolerate those people.

The targeting and killing of journalists have escalated in the country since peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began last year. Another former TOLO news journalist, Yama Siawash, was killed along with two others in a targeted explosion in Makrorayan-e-Char area of Kabul on November 7.

The recently released IFJ South Asia Press Freedom ReportTruth in a Time of Contagion: The Viral Frontline documented ten journalists’ killings in Afghanistan in the period May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 as well as rising incidents of threats and intimidation of journalists.

“Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) condemns the killing of media workers and journalists and urges the Afghan intelligence agencies to investigate all murder cases of journalists in particular the killing of Ravan. The agencies must find out if his killing was related to his journalistic works or otherwise”, said the AIJA in a statement.

The IFJ said: “The political tensions in Afghanistan and the imminent withdrawal of US troops in September 2021 do not bode well for media workers who remain vulnerable to attack for not toeing the line of government or the Taliban. Critical efforts are urgently needed to protect freedom of expression and independent journalism in Afghanistan.”

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