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Afghanistan: BBC reporter found dead in Helmand a day after being abducted

Abducted and killed: An Afghan journalist places flowers in front of a photograph of the late Afghan journalist Abdul Samad Rohani, Kabul, 12 Jun 2008.Photo: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

An Afghan reporter working for the Pashtu service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been killed in the southern province of Helmand, Afghan officials said on Sunday.

The body of 25-year-old Abdol Samad Rohani, was found near the city of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, one day after he was abducted. Rohani disappeared after his vehicle was stopped by armed men in the suburbs of Lashkar Gah. His body was found with three bullet wounds the following day.

A pathologist said the journalist appeared to have been tortured before he was killed.

Rohani's murder came just a day after another journalist working for the BBC was killed. On Saturday, Nasteh Dahir, who reported for BBC and the Associated Press (AP) in Somalia was shot by gunmen in the southern town of Kismayo.

Rohani was buried early Monday. His body was taken from the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah to his nearby home district of Marja and buried in the family cemetery, relative Abdul Malik told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“We offer our deepest condolences to the journalist’s family and colleagues. Abdul Samad Rohani was typical of many contributors to the BBC who risk their lives to ensure the independence and pluralism of news in their countries. They cover fighting in the south of Afghanistan despite the risks and report on atrocities against civilians,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said in a statement.

Samad Rohani was the head of the BBC’s Pashtu service in Helmand province. He had also worked with the Afghan independent news agency Pajhwok since 2004. His colleagues told RSF that he had received several phone threats from a local chief who accused him of supporting the Kabul government and of “boycotting” news put out by the Taliban. Rohani’s home was the target of an attack in his absence in 2006.

“He was one of our best journalists. He covered a very difficult region. It is a serious blow for press freedom, but they will not manage to silence people with these kinds of acts” said Lotfolah Latif, editor for the BBC in Afghanistan. Danish Karokhel, director of Pajhwok, told RSF of his fears for the safety of journalists who “come under a huge amount of pressure for their independent and impartial work”.

In 2007, Sayed Agha and Ajmal Nasqhbandi, driver and guide for Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo, were killed by the Taliban in Helmand. The province is one of the most violent in Afghanistan and alone produces nearly half the world's opium. Helmand is also a stronghold of Taliban insurgents who control several districts in the area while mainly British NATO troops and Afghan forces battle to defend the places they hold.

A Taliban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, said his group was not involved in the killing and had been trying to locate the journalist after his colleagues said he had gone missing, according to AFP. "We were also looking for him. We are not involved in his death and this is not our work," he said.

Date posted: June 9, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1147