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Pakistan 15 September 2006

Violence against journalists continues with a murder, beating and shooting

Reporters Without Borders said it was deeply saddened by the murder of Maqbool Hussain Sail of the Online news agency, who was gunned down today in Dera Ismael Khan, in North-West Frontier Province, as he was going to see a local politician at his home. The killing followed attacks on at least two other journalists in the past few days.

“These attacks show the degree of the hostility to which the Pakistani press is exposed,” the press freedom organisation said. “They come amid demonstrations by journalists for more pay and better protection from the government against criminals who take advantage of the climate of impunity to intimidate the media. We call for the arrest and punishment of those responsible.”

Sail, 32, was gunned down by two men on motorcycle on the road leading to the home of Nawab Azek, the head of the local branch of the Pakistan People’s Party. He was hit six times and died while being rushed to hospital. Noting that he was a Shiite, the police said he could have been the victim of sectarian violence by members of the majority Sunni community.

C.R. Shamsi, the deputy editor of the Urdu-language daily Ausaf and former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, was attacked by the federal labour minister’s staff in Islamabad two days ago when he tried to talk to the minister about a national demonstration by journalists that was due to take place soon.

The minister told Shamsi he should come and talk to him about it in his office. When Shamsi insisted on telling him immediately, the minister told his driver and bodyguard to “teach him a lesson.” Shamsi’s ear drum was seriously injured in the attack.

The same day, two men opened fire on the home of Shakil Anjum, the correspondent of the English-language daily, The News, in the province of Punjab, injuring his son and his nephew. Anjum suspects the attack was ordered by a local political who was the subject of one of his recent articles.

Meanwhile reporter Mushtaq Ghuman of the Islamabad-based Business Recorder said he had received threatening phone calls and suspected Intelligence Bureau agents were trying to put him on his guard about an article he was writing concerning the prime minister.

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