Afghanistan: Suspected Taliban militants kill a media center manager and kidnap a journalist

This statement was originally published on on 9 August 2021.

Suspected Taliban fighters killed Afghan media center manager Toofan Omari in Kabul and kidnapped Nematullah Hemmat, a journalist in southern Helmand province, local government officials said on Monday, reporting the latest in a long line of attacks targeting media workers.

Amid a resurgence in targeted attacks across Afghanistan, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Omari, a manager of the privately-owned media center Paktia Ghag, in Deh Sabz district in Kabul on Sunday.

Mr. Omari was traveling with his colleague, also a prosecutor, from Bagram prison to Kabul when they were attacked by gunmen, according to his family. It is not clear whether the journalist killing was related to his work with Paktia Ghag media center, or the Bagram Detention Facility.

The media center Mr. Omari established in Paktia province contained two radio stations named Paktia Ghag Radio, and Women’s Voice Radio, and a weekly publication.

Also, in southern Helmand province, officials said Taliban fighters had seized a Gharghasht TV journalist Nematullah Hemat, from his home in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, on Sunday.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center remains gravely concerned about the wellbeing of local journalists amid a rise in threats and attacks on local media outlets across Afghanistan, as well as journalists reporting for international media.

“We strongly condemn the killing of Toofan Omari and call on the Afghan authorities to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice and to ensure the safe release of journalist Nematullah Hemat,” said Ahmad Quraishi, AFJC executive director. “We urge the Afghan government and international community to provide support for media in the deteriorating climate in Afghanistan as US troops withdraw and fighting between the Afghan army and Taliban militants intensifies.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Data, a total of 123 journalists and media workers have been killed in Afghanistan over the past two decades, with seven journalists and media workers, including four women, losing their lives in 2021, most of them deliberately targeted.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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