GHAZNI: Many journalists from southern Ghazni province have termed the recent assassination of Rahmatullah Nikzad a ‘significant loss’ for the Afghan media, giving the government an ultimatum to reveal the perpetrators within the next three days.
Nikzad, who was also head of the Ghazni Journalists’ Union, was killed by unidentified armed men in front of his house in Ghazni’s capital on Monday. He is the fifth journalist who lost his life in unclaimed attacks involving sticky bombs and shooting in less than two months across Afghanistan.
A few days back, Fardin Amini, a presenter of 1TV channel, was found dead with mysterious wounds on his throat. There were contradictory reports while police said he had committed suicide. He succumbed to his injuries in the Qargha area of Kabul.
Yama Seyawash, a former anchor of Tolo News, was also killed in a magnetic bomb attack in Kabul on November 7. Another TV anchor, Malala Maiwand, was killed along with her driver in an armed attack in Jalalabad city, the capital of Nangarhar province, on December 10.
A journalist of Azadi Radio, Elyas Dayee, was killed and three others, including a reporter, were wounded in a sticky bomb blast in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, on November 12.
Following increased assaults against journalists and activists in recent months, media outlets have become extremely worried about their staffers’ safety. They have raised constant calls, asking the government to pay care for their security.
“Nikzad was a strong journalist as he was threatened multiple times before being killed. Despite sharing his concerns with relevant security organs, they failed to stop the attack,” Jamil Weqar, head of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSF) in the central zone of the country, told OrbandNews.
He asked the government to work in collaboration with journalists-supporting organizations in finding the perpetrators of the attack.
Ghazni provincial council head, Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, said that the government should pay attention to journalists’ security and take to justice those involved in Nikzad’s assassination.
Journalists were responsible for revealing the truth, said Habib Rahman Tasir, a reporter of Azadi Radio, adding this very fact constituted a cause of concern for some figures in Afghanistan – something that explains the reason behind the increased assaults against media personnel.
Meanwhile, a local journalist in Ghazni, Ehsanullah Karimi, said, “I and Rahmatullah Nikzad were usually going together to frontlines of war for covering conflicts. He was a very kind and friendly man. He used to solve our problems during work. I was devasted when I heard about his martyrdom.”
He asked the government’s security and judicial organs to follow the case and arrest the incident’s perpetrators.
This is while the government has always promised to investigate targeted killing incidents, but after a few days of these attacks, they are forgotten without any probe or follow up.
Following Nikzad’s assassination, Ghazni Journalists’ Union members in a meeting asked the government to investigate the incident within the next three days – ending on Friday.
Despite calls from the international community, including Amnesty International and European Union, about a thorough investigation into Nikzad’s killing, there has been so far no tangible progress made or result produced.
The Afghan people believe that the ongoing war in their country has gotten more complicated as attacks on social activists and journalists, who are not even military targets, have recently increased.
Experts dub threats to media as dangerous and attempt at censuring freedom of expression in Afghanistan.
It’s pertinent to mention that besides journalists, activists have also become high-value targets. Farishta Kohistani, a women’s rights activist, was killed along with her brother during an unidentified motorcyclists’ drive-by shooting in Kapisa on Thursday.