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Two TV employees killed in Quetta, investigative journalist abducted in Islamabad

Shiite protest: Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans against the attacks on Shiite Muslims during a rally in Karachi on September 5, 2010. The bomber was among a 450-strong crowd marching through the southwestern city of Quetta on September 3 and blew himself up as the procession reached a main square. Shiite Muslims are a minority in Pakistan, accounting for around a fifth of the country's 160 million population, dominated by Sunnis.

Two TV employees have been killed in Quetta and an investigative journalist has been abducted in Islamabad.

A cameraman and a TV station driver were killed and six other journalists seriously injured in a suicide bombing on September 3 in Quetta and the ensuing acts of revenge violence by demonstrators who were targeted by the bombing. The overall death toll was 59. In Islamabad, an investigative newspaper reporter was abducted, mistreated and humiliated the next day by uniformed gunmen who may have been members of the security services.

“At a time when the country needs everyone's help in coping with disastrous flooding, Jihadi terrorists and certain members of the security services continue to target civilians, including media employees,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “Such criminal behaviour and recourse to thuggish methods is absolutely incredible.”

The media fatalities in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, were Samaa TV cameraman Ejaz Raisani and Muhammad Sarwar, the driver of an Aaj News live broadcast van. The six seriously injured journalists were Fateh Shakir of Dawn News, Mustafa Tareen of ARY News TV, Noor Elahi Bugti of Samaa TV, Irshad Mastoi of Express News TV, Shahid Mukhtar of Express News and Imran Mukhtar of Geo TV.

The suicide bombing, which was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Jihadi group linked to Al-Qaeda, was targeted at Shiites who were demonstrating in support of the Palestinians. Journalists at the scene said some of their colleagues were wounded by the bombing while others were injured by shots fired at them by Shiite demonstrators.

The Aaj News driver, for example, was killed by two rounds fired from an automatic weapon. “He was shot at point-blank range by enraged demonstrators who attacked the TV station vehicles at the scene,” said the representative of a Quetta journalists' organisation who asked not to be identified. Raisani, who was 30, is the third Samaa TV journalist to be killed in a suicide bombing. He died from his injuries today in the military hospital to which all of the seriously injured people were taken.

RSF and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists issued a joint appeal in May again the use of suicide bombings, which threaten the lives of reporters along with innocent civilians.

The investigative journalist who was abducted, tortured and humiliated for several hours on September 4 by men in police commando uniforms was Umar Cheema of the daily the News. Before releasing him, his abductors warned him that his reporting could land him in “serious trouble.”

Calling on Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the head of the military's media relations office, the ISPR, to explain this incident, RSF voiced strong support for Umar Cheema and the staff of the News. “Those who committed these degrading acts are not worthy to wear Pakistani military uniform and must be punished at once,” RSF said.

Cheema said he was abducted by “professionally trained” people who took him to an unidentified location where they beat him, undressed him, shaved his head, hung him by his hands and feet, and finally left him at a roadside near Talagang, 120 km outside Islamabad. Before releasing him, they threatened Ansar Abbasi, the head of the newspaper's investigative section, with the same treatment.

In 2004, a moving car deliberately hit Cheema while he was doing a story on international inspection of Pakistan's nuclear power installations. The News is very critical of President Asif Ali Zardari and its journalists are often threatened. The government has withdrawn state advertising from the entire Jang media group, which owns the News.

Date posted: September 7, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 195