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Pakistan 17 November 2007

Slain tribal area journalist’s widow murdered

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of the widow of Hayatullah Khan, a journalist slain last year. She was killed in the early hours of today by a bomb planted next to her bedroom outside her home in Mir Ali, in the Tribal Area of North Waziristan.

Her five children, aged 2 to 10, who were sleeping in an adjoining bedroom, were not injured by the blast. A school teacher, Khan’s widow had been active in protesting against his abduction and murder six months later.

“We call on the authorities in Islamabad and in the Tribal Areas to investigate this barbarous killing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “For the time being, it is not easy to know the motives for the bombing, which has bereaved this family for the second time. Hayatullah Khan’s murderers, whom the authorities never tried to identify, may have felt the need to eliminate an irritating witness.”

The slain journalist’s brother, Ehsanullah Khan, confirmed his sister-in-law’s death to Reporters Without Borders. “She was sleeping on the floor in her bedroom while her five children were in another bedroom,” he said. “The bomb exploded at the foot of the wall of her bedroom.”

He accused those who killed his brother of being behind his sister-in-law’s death. In the past, he has accused Pakistani military intelligence of being involved in his brother’s abduction, something the government always denied. But the authorities never published the findings of a Peshawar judge’s investigation.

Ehsanullah Khan said his sister-in-law had received threats, which he had reported to former information minister Muhammad Ali Durani. But the authorities never took any measures to protect her.

Hayatullah Khan’s bullet-riddled body was found six months after he was kidnapped in December 2005. Employed by the European Press Photo Agency (EPA) and several Pakistani media, he had - shortly before his abduction - proved that an Al-Qaeda chief had been killed in the Tribal Areas by a US missile.

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