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Afghan journalist killed in crossfire

Since US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, at least 120 local, foreign journalists lost their lives in line of duty.

An Afghan journalist caught in a crossfire between the Taliban and Afghan security forces was killed on Wednesday in the eastern Logar province, an official confirmed.

The provincial governor’s spokesman Ahmad Lawang told Anadolu Agency that the incident took place on the outskirts of provincial capital Pul-e-Alam in the afternoon. “The security forces have begun investigations into the incident,” he said.

The slain journalist was identified as Hafeezullah Haq Parast, who had been in the field for the past 13 years. One of his colleagues, Khan Wali, told Anadolu Agency that Haq Parast was hit by bullets in the Kalangaar area of the city and lost his life.

With Haq Parast’s death, the number of Afghan journalists killed this year rose to four.

  • 120 journalists killed since US invasion of Afghanistan

In the past 21 years since the US invasion of Afghanistan, at least 120 local and foreign journalists lost their lives in the line of duty, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Federation.

Figures compiled by UNESCO suggest the foreign journalists killed in Afghanistan since 2001 included four Germans, two French people, a Spaniard, an American, a Swedish-British, a Norwegian, a Canadian, a British, a Norwegian, a Swede, an Australian, and an Iranian.

The situation for media professionals and journalists in Afghanistan declined alarmingly in 2014 and onwards when most foreign troops left the war-ravaged country and the country’s nascent security forces took charge nationwide.

The UNESCO figures show that five journalists lost their lives in 2014, one in 2015, 13 in 2016, 11 in 2017, 16 in 2018, five in 2019, and six in 2020.

Last week, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), an international freedom of information group, urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a probe into the killings of Afghan journalists in the war-struck country. According to the RSF, all of these journalists were targeted because of their work amid an alarming increase in violence against media and civil society members since early 2020.

“RSF has every reason to believe that armed groups, especially the Taliban or Taliban affiliates, are responsible for this wave of killings,” said the group.

It has asked the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to include these murders among war crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003 that she was authorized to investigate by the ICC’s Appeals Chamber in March 2020.

Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visited The Hague in April to hold talks with Bensouda in connection with alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The Afghan government has submitted its performance report and requested assistance in this regard.

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