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Afghanistan 4 March 2002

A journalist wounded near Gardez : Reporters Without Borders asks the interim government to provide security for journalists

In a letter sent to Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s interim president, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders-RSF) has expressed its deep concern for the security of journalists in Afghanistan after Kathleen Kenna, a Canadian journalist for the Toronto Star, was wounded in an ambush on 4 March near Gardez (capital of the eastern province of Paktia). RSF has asked the President for details about this incident and to take strong measures to insure the safety of journalists covering the fighting between the American and al-Qaida forces. With this being the biggest land-based operation carried out by the United States since the start of the conflict," says Robert Ménard, RSF’s general secretary, "it seems more urgent than ever to insure the safety of journalists in the field and to do everything possible not to add to the sad total of journalist already killed in Afghanistan."

According to information obtained by RSF, Kathleen Kenna, south Asia correspondent for the Canadian daily, The Toronto Star, was injured in an ambush between the area known as Zurmat (some thirty kilometres to the south of Gardez) and Gardez as she was returning to the provincial capital with her husband and a photographer. According to the others in the car, a man suddenly appeared to the left of their car and threw something at it while other individuals attacked from the right. The journalist was hit in the leg by a grenade or a bullet. She was rushed to a hospital in Gardez.

No fewer than eight journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the "Enduring Freedom" operation.

Maria Grazia Cutuli, special correspondent of the Italian daily, Corriere della Serra, Julio Fuentes, reporter for the Spanish daily, El Mundo, Harry Burton, Australian cameraman for the Reuters press agency, and Azizullah Haidari, an Afghani born photographer for Reuters, were all killed in an ambush that was deliberately set for their convoy of journalists on 19 November 2001.

Johanne Sutton, reporter for Radio France International (RFI), Pierre Billaud, journalist for the French radio station, RTL, and Volker Handloik, freelance reporter for the German weekly, Stern, were killed on 11 November 2001 on the Shataray front in Takhar province in northern-eastern Afghanistan as they were riding in an armoured vehicle belonging to the Northern Alliance when their column drove into a trap set by the Taliban.

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