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Respected TV journalist murdered in Kabul

In post-Taliban Afghanistan, journalists have been often targeted by insurgent groups for attacks over their work.

A prominent Afghan television news journalist and political activist has been murdered near his Kabul home. Sayed Hamid Noori, who was also deputy head of Afghanistan's National Journalists' Association, was found dead of knife wounds late Sunday.

"Someone called him and asked him to come down from his apartment last night. His body was found later by police in a tree-covered area near his home," deputy Kabul police chief Khalilullah Dastyar told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Another media rights' group, the Centre to Support Journalists (CSJ), said Noori had been stabbed and then beheaded. "Noori was beheaded and repeatedly stabbed all over his body," CSJ said in a statement on its website. Citing the local district police, the group also said that Noori had been asked out by known callers before being killed. "It appeared that he knew the caller as he walked quite a distance to meet him," the CSJ statement said, citing police accounts.

Dastyar said Noori might have been killed by "a friend" because he willingly went to see the caller. He said a murder investigation had been opened.
Noori, 45, was a TV news anchor at the state-owned broadcaster RTA. He was also known for his political activism on behalf of groups opposed to President Hamid Karzai.

“While the motives are not yet known, it is important that the investigators should not rule out the possibility that this murder was linked to the victim's work as a journalist,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “Although he had resigned as a state TV presenter, he continued to be a politically committed journalist and was an active member of the National Union of Afghan Journalists. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.”

Information minister Makhdoom Raheen told RSF, “He was one of the best Afghan journalists and a servant of free expression. I immediately made a statement about his tragic death and contacted the interior minister, who promised me a full and thorough investigation. As regards the motives, we are awaiting the results of the police enquiry, but it is not clear that it was politically motivated.”

National Union of Afghan Journalists president Abdul Hamid Moubarez said, “I had known him for years. He was a man of letters, a poet and a great defender of free speech. We are not aware that he had any personal enemies, but we must not forget that Afghan journalists sometimes pay dearly for their commitment to press freedom.”

In 2004 Noori temporarily left his job as a news anchor in RTA to become a spokesman for Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Afghanistan's parliament speaker, who also contested the last presidential elections won by Hamid Karzai.

In post-Taliban Afghanistan journalists have often been targeted for attack by by insurgent groups because of their work. Karzai's Western-backed government has also been blamed for assaults on reporters. Since the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime in 2001, 27 journalists, 12 of them foreigners, have been killed, another media support group, NAI, told AFP.

Sidiqullah Tawhidi, the head of NAI, said 252 "acts of violence" against journalists, including murder, beating, imprisonment and other threats, had been recorded by his organisation. He blamed the Taliban and other insurgent groups for most of these.

Date posted: September 7, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 217