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No arrests after shooting attack on TV crew covering Sindh flooding

Life in limbo: Flood victims carry rations past flood waters while heading to their home from a distribution point in Murad Chandio village, some 35 km (22 miles) from Dadu in Pakistan's Sindh province, January 26, 2011.

There has been no significant police response to an incident in which snipers allegedly in the pay of an influential landowner fired on reporter Talat Hussain cameraman Haider Ali of the DawnNews TV channel when they were doing a story about the social impact of recent flooding in Thatta, in the southern province of Sindh, on February 4. No one was fortunately injured.

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) called on the provincial authorities to lose no time in carrying out an exhaustive investigation into this shooting attack on journalists, which could have been fatal. No attempt has been made to identify and arrest those responsible although the incident was condemned by Sindh’s chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, and its governor, Ishratul Ebad Khan.

“The crew was fired on and luckily they escaped unhurt,” DawnNews editor Mubashar Zaidi told RSF by telephone from Karachi.

The shots were fired by men using submachine guns and other high-calibre firearms who apparently saw the journalists as troublemakers because they were talking to local residents. Villagers said the gunmen were in the pay of Ghulam Qadir Malkani, a former advisor to the Sindh chief minister and they accused Malkani of taking advantage of the flooding to expel them from the land they were occupying.

The incident took place when one of the villagers led the TV crew to the area from which they had been evicted. According to Ali, the villager stopped some distance away, saying he could not go any further because armed guards would detain and beat him. Ali and Hussain then walked ahead. Hussain identified himself in a loud voice and called out but no one replied.

Suddenly, snipers opened fire on Ali and Hussain and then several gunmen pursued them as they fled. They finally managed to escape to a safe area. Ali had meanwhile not turned off his camera and was able to record the incident.

Ranked 151st out of 178 countries in the latest RSF press freedom index, Pakistan is Asia’s most dangerous country for journalists, with 11 killed in 2010. This year got off to a bad start with the murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of the northeastern province of Punjab and owner of the English-language Daily Times, the Urdu-language daily Aaj Kal and the TV station B-Plus, on January 4 was because of his opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Wali Khan Babar, a Geo News TV reporter, was gunned down nine days later while out reporting in Karachi.

Date posted: February 15, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 163