NEW YORK (Asia Pacific Report/Committee to Protect Journalists/Pacific Media Watch): The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has strongly condemned the attack on a state television station in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
The four-hour attack on the Jalalabad office of National Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA) yesterday killed at least six people and injured at least 18 others, according to media reports.
The Islamic State group in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Site Intel Group, which monitors websites used by violent extremist groups.
Four RTA employees were killed — Ilias Alami, operations manager for the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, a press freedom group, told CPJ.
“This attack is a brazen assault not just on one television station but on the entire media in Afghanistan, which is struggling against forces that want to control the flow of information,” said CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney.
“Afghan authorities should do everything in their power to prevent these attacks.”
RTA did not immediately respond to calls or emails. Police said four attackers and two guards were also killed, and that one assailant was arrested, according to TOLO News.
Afghanistan ranked seventh in CPJ’s 2016 Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are killed and their killers go free.
Al Jazeera English reports that Afghanistan suffered its deadliest year on record for journalists in 2016, according to the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee (AJSC), adding that the country is the second most dangerous for reporters in the world after Syria.
At least 13 journalists were killed last year, AJSC said, claiming the Taliban was behind at least 10 of the deaths.
In January 2016, seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, which is often critical of fighters, were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul in what the Taliban said was revenge for “spreading propaganda” against them.
It was the first major attack on an Afghan media organisation since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001.
Dan Coats, head of US intelligence agencies, said last week that the security and political situation in Afghanistan would “also almost certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in the military assistance by the US”.
US-led forces have been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 16 years, making it America’s longest war.
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