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Police assault journalist covering Kandahar blast that killed 40

An Afghan soldier keeps watch at the site of a bomb blast, which killed 40 people on Tuesday, in Kandahar August 26, 2009. The blast happened shortly after dusk, when Afghans were breaking their fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned a police assault on radio reporter Dawa Khan Meenapal at the site of a bomb attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, in which at least 40 people were killed and 65 wounded on August 25.

According to the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), an IFJ affiliate, Meenapal was recording witness accounts of the attack in his job as a reporter for Radio Free Afghanistan when he was detained. His wrists were bound and his recording equipment was confiscated by police.

Meenapal told AIJA that police assaulted him with rifle butts and pushed him around, ostensibly because he had not secured their permission before interviewing witnesses. His equipment was returned upon his release.

“IFJ believes that journalists who are confident of their personal safety should have access to breaking news hotspots unless there are compelling reasons of security that demand otherwise,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. “We see no cause for the Afghan police to deal in this rough manner with a radio reporter who was seeking to document the aftermath of the most serious terrorist strike in Afghanistan in several months.”

Nine journalists are reported to have filed personal testimony with AIJA about threats issued by security personnel as they sought to cover the bombing.

AIJA president Rahimullahh Samander has protested the most recent effort to restrain media coverage of a serious security incident, and questioned the policy of the Afghan Government to limit information and access to people affected by violence.

“We call upon Afghanistan’s Government, in this period of delicate political transition, to be attentive to the need for free media access to locales and situations of public importance,” Park said.

Date posted: September 4, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 263