Pakistan Taliban admit killing reporter MK Atif
The Taliban in Pakistan have said they killed a journalist while he was praying in a mosque near the city of Peshawar on Tuesday.
Mukarram Khan Atif – who worked for the Voice of America broadcasting service – was shot in the head by attackers on a motorcycle who fled from the scene.
His death has been condemned by his employers and by campaigning groups.
The Reporters Without Borders campaign group say Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2011.
Last year, 10 journalists were killed there as a result of their work, the group says.
Mr Atif – who was based in the Mohmand tribal region – was reported to be among several reporters in the area who had been receiving threats because of his work.
A bystander who was with him at the time of the attack was seriously injured.
Mr Atif was buried on Wednesday in his home town of Shabqadar.
A spokesman for the militants told the BBC that he was shot dead for not conveying the Taliban’s point of view.
The spokesman said that he had been warned many times before for not telling their side of the story.
The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says that the Taliban had warned of dire consequences in recent propaganda statements and videos.
The militants said that they would attack facilities and employees of media organisations if they did not refrain from what they called “malicious propaganda”.
Our correspondent says that it is the first time that the militants have accepted responsibility for such a killing.
Mr Atif, 40, complained that he had received threats from militants in Mohmand several months ago and had moved away from there to the nearby town of Charsadda.
In a statement, Voice of America (VOA) said that he had been working for its Deewa Radio service since 2006.
“Mr Atif risked his life on a daily basis to provide his audience with fair and balanced news from this critical region and we mourn the loss of our colleague,” VOA Director David Ensor said.
It said that the murdered reporter also worked for local TV stations in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area, a region where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are active.
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the assassination of a journalist in Charsadda and expressed concern that despite official assurances, journalist killings have continued across the country.
Mukarram Khan Atif, who worked for the Voice of America among other media organisations, was gunned down on Tuesday by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants who said that the journalist was killed for creating anti-Taliban propaganda in the foreign media.
It is exceedingly unfortunate that despite repeated assurances by the government to protect journalists, a senior journalist was killed, said a HRCP statement released on Wednesday. “The TTP’s acceptance of responsibility for the ghastly deed and its admission that the victim was targeted for his professional work underlines the perils journalists are increasingly being exposed to.”
At least 17 journalists and media workers were killed in Pakistan in 2011, the HRCP said, and one has already been killed in the first month of 2012. “That Pakistan is a perilous place for journalists is old news, since we have been labelled the most dangerous country in the world for a few years running now. All indications suggest that this too would be a bad year for Pakistani journalists.”
Mentioning Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s advice to journalists last year that they should arm themselves for their own safety, the HRCP said that journalists and civil society still expects that authorities should show more resolve in protecting journalists and tracking down their killers.
“The government must realise that if it has tried anything to ensure protection for journalists, it clearly has not worked. It is not entirely unreasonable for journalists to question the government’s commitment to protecting them in view of its failure to bring to justice the killers of even one of the many journalists killed during its tenure,” the statement said.