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Pakistan 27 March 2009

Veteran reporter gunned down outside his home in Rawalpindi

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by last night’s murder of veteran journalist Raja Assad Hameed in the northeastern city of Rawalpindi. Hameed, who worked for Waqt TV and The Nation, an English-language newspaper, was gunned down outside his home.

“We offer our condolences to Hameed’s family, friends and colleagues and we urge the government to assume its responsibility to take effective measures to protect press freedom and journalists in Pakistan,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Hameed’s murder comes just a month after the murder of journalist Mosa Khankhel, in which the police investigation has yet to yield any results,” the press freedom organisation added. “This casts serious doubt on the commitment of Pakistan’s authorities to ensuring that journalists are safe.”

Hameed was about to enter his house at 10:10 p.m. last night when he was shot three times in the face and once in the neck by unidentified gunmen. Members of his family rushed him to Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Hospital where he died from his injuries. The motive for the murder is not yet known.

The Nation editor Mahmood Hamdani said he and the entire staff were stunned by Hameed’s death. “It feels as though we have lost a brother. It is clear that no one is safe here.”

There were expressions of sadness and anger from the media community, as well as appeals to the authorities to track down those responsible and to guarantee the protection of journalists, who are becoming increasingly vulnerable as political tension mounts in Pakistan.

Raja Assad Hameed

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