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Pakistan 8 February 2005

Two journalists killed in ambush in tribal zone of South Waziristan

Reporters Without Borders expressed revulsion at the murder of two journalists who died in a hail of machine-gun fire as their car was ambushed after they covered the surrender of a Taliban leader to the authorities.

The two who died, Amir Nawab Khan and Allah Noor Wazir, were killed outright. One other travelling in the same car was wounded.

"Journalists in the tribal areas have shown their courage and determination to carry out their work under pressure from both armed militants and the authorities", said the worldwide press freedom organisation, which has worked for more than a year with the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ). "This cowardly murder should not go unpunished."

Khan, a cameraman with broadcast news agency APTN and a reporter with Pakistani daily The Frontier Post, and Wazir, reporter with Pakistani Khyber TV, the daily The Nation and German news agency DPA, were killed on 7 February in an ambush near Wana, South Waziristan, south-west of Peshawar.

Agence France-Presse correspondent in Wana, Anwar Shakir was wounded. They were returning from Sararogha, South Waziristan where Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud had given himself up to the Pakistani authorities.

The journalists came under machine gunfire as they neared a Wana hospital. The security forces failed to identify those responsible for the attack, but a top local official said that it had been an attempt to sabotage the peace agreement between the authorities and Baitullah Mehsud.

Some 20 Wana journalists are employed by international media to cover news from the region.

Since the start of the Pakistani army offensive against armed Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in the Wana region in March 2004, the security forces have almost entirely prevented the press from working in the area.

In June 2004, the military arrested Khan and Wazir for attempting to penetrate the banned area near Wana. Some journalists have received death threats from the Taliban.

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