Journalists Killed 2003-2012: Motive Confirmed
CPJ research has determined that 42 journalists were killed in Pakistan in direct relation to their work from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2012. An additional 12 journalists were killed in unclear circumstances during the time period. Capsule reports on each death follow, beginning with cases in which CPJ has confirmed a work-related motive.
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Fazal Wahab, freelance
January 21, 2003, in Mingora
Wahab, a freelance writer, was shot by unidentified gunmen as he sat in a roadside shop in Manglawar Bazaar, near the resort town of Mingora in northwestern Pakistan. The shopkeeper and his young assistant also died in the attack.
Wahab, who lived in Mingora, had published several books in Urdu and Pashto that were critical of local religious leaders and Islamic militant organizations. Among Wahab’s work was the book, Mullah Ka Kirdar (The Mullah’s Role), which analyzed the Islamic clergy’s involvement in politics. He had also completed a manuscript about Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
Local journalists and human rights activists told CPJ that Wahab had received threats for years in connection with his journalism. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan found that police took no evident action to apprehend the killers.
Sajid Tanoli, Shumal
January 29, 2004, in Mansehra
Tanoli, 35, a reporter with the regional Urdu-language daily Shumal, was killed in the town of Mansehra in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, which is now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tanoli was stopped on a highway, dragged from his car, and shot several times, the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Tanoli had written critical stories about the head of the local government, Khalid Javed, including a piece published three days before his murder that accused the official of involvement in an illegal liquor business, news reports said. Police filed murder charges against Javed, prompting the official to flee, according to news reports. Although Javed eventually returned, the murder charges were never revived, according to Kiran Nazish, a journalist who has studied anti-press attacks in Pakistan.
Allah Noor, Khyber TV
Amir Nowab, Associated Press Television News and Frontier Post
February 7, 2005, in Wana
Gunmen in South Waziristan fatally shot Allah Noor, a journalist for Peshawar-based Khyber TV, and Amir Nowab, a freelance cameraman for Associated Press Television News and a reporter for the Frontier Post newspaper. The journalists were riding with colleagues in a bus transporting them from the town of Sararogha, where they had covered the surrender of a suspected tribal militant, Baitullah Mehsud.
A car overtook the bus about 7:30 p.m. near the town of Wana, and assailants opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles, according to The Associated Press, which quoted Mahmood Shah, chief of security for Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Two other journalists riding in the bus were injured. Anwar Shakir, a stringer for Agence France-Presse, was wounded in the back during the attack, according to news reports. Dilawar Khan, who was working for Al-Jazeera, suffered minor injuries. Nowab was also known professionally as Mir Nawab.
Days later, a group calling itself Sipah-e-Islam, or Soldiers of Islam, claimed responsibility for the killings in a letter faxed to newspapers. It accused some journalists of “working for Christians” and of “being used as tools in negative propaganda ... against the Muslim mujahideen.”
Local journalists blamed officials for not doing more at the time of the murders. They said no attempt was made to stop the gunmen’s vehicle even though the attack took place in an area under government control. They also said no real investigation into the murders took place.
The Pakistani military had begun an offensive against suspected Al-Qaeda fighters in South Waziristan in early 2004.
Munir Ahmed Sangi, Kawish Television Network
May 29, 2006, in Larkana
Sangi, a cameraman for the Sindhi-language channel, was shot while covering a gunfight between members of the Unar and Abro tribes in the town of Larkana, in southeast Pakistan’s Sindh district, according to local media reports. At least one other person was killed in the clash, which Sangi recorded before he died. The station broadcast his video.
Police said Sangi was killed in crossfire, although some colleagues believe he might have been deliberately targeted for the station’s reporting on a jirga, or tribal council, held by leaders of the Unar tribe, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. An uncle and colleague of Sangi had recently been attacked in connection with the station’s reports that two children had been punished by the tribal court, the journalist union said.
Mazhar Abbas, then the secretary-general of the journalist union, said Sangi’s body was not recovered for several hours after he was shot. Journalists in Larkana staged a sit-in to protest the killing of their colleague.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Sangi had received threats in connection with his coverage of alleged abuses by Altaf Hussain Unar, a provincial minister. The Sindh Home Department said that four people were arrested after Sangi’s death and that three police officials were suspended. Unar was arrested in a separate case in 2008, but was not charged in relation to the killing of Sangi.
Despite the initial arrests, the suspects were never brought to trial, according to Hadi Sangi, brother of the slain journalist, and court documents reviewed by CPJ. Hadi Sangi also said that he and his brother’s widow, Reshman Sangi, had received repeated threats.
Hayatullah Khan, freelance
June 16, 2006, in Miran Shah
Khan’s body was found by villagers in the North Waziristan town of Miran Shah, where he had been kidnapped six months earlier. Khan was abducted on December 5, 2005, by five gunmen who ran his car off the road as his younger brother, Haseenullah, watched helplessly. Local government officials and family members said Khan, 32, had been found handcuffed and shot several times. His body appeared frail and he had grown a long beard since he was last seen, Pakistani journalists told CPJ.
The day before his abduction, Khan photographed what apparently were the remnants of a U.S.-made missile said to have struck a house in Miran Shah on December 1, 2005, killing senior Al-Qaeda figure Hamza Rabia. The pictures, widely distributed by the European Pressphoto Agency on the day they were shot, contradicted the Pakistani government’s explanation that Rabia had died in a blast caused by explosives within the house. International news media identified the fragments in the photographs as part of a Hellfire missile, possibly fired from a U.S. drone.
Khan, who was also a reporter for the Urdu-language daily Ausaf, had received numerous threats from Pakistani security forces, Taliban members, and local tribesmen because of his reporting.
During Khan’s six-month disappearance, government officials provided his family with numerous and often contradictory accounts of his whereabouts: Khan was in government custody, soon to be released; Khan had been abducted by “miscreants”; he had been taken by Waziristan mujahideen; he had been flown to the military base at Rawalpindi and was then detained in Kohat air base.
Khan’s relatives were told by hospital workers that he had five or six bullet wounds and that one hand had been manacled in handcuffs typically used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, dismissed the reported presence of the handcuffs as circumstantial and said the cuffs could have been planted to incriminate the government. No autopsy was performed.
An investigation led by High Court Justice Mohammed Reza Khan was conducted, but the results were not made public. Hayatullah Khan’s family said they were not interviewed by the judge or other investigators. North West Frontier Gov. Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai told CPJ that North Waziristan was not secure enough to risk exposing a judicial figure to kidnapping or death. CPJ has repeatedly sought the release of the report, making a direct request to President Asif Ali Zardari in 2011. The report remained a secret as of February 2013.
In November 2007, Khan’s widow was killed in a bomb that was detonated outside her home.
Mehboob Khan, freelance
April 28, 2007, in Charsadda
Khan, a photographer, was killed in a suicide bomb attack aimed at Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao. The minister escaped with minor injuries, but 28 people died in the attack at a political rally in North West Frontier Province, which is now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Three other journalists were injured in the attack.
Khan, a 22-year-old who had recently begun his journalism career, had contributed photos to local and national publications. He was believed to be working at the time. Follow-up reports said the bomber was believed to have been a teenage male, and that security at the event was lax.
Noor Hakim Khan, Daily Pakistan
June 2, 2007, in Bajaur
Khan, a correspondent for the Daily Pakistan and a vice president of the Tribal Union of Journalists, was one of five people killed by a roadside bomb in the Bajaur region of the North West Frontier Province, now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Behroz Khan, the Peshawar-based reporter for The News, confirmed news reports that the victim was returning from covering a jirga, or tribal council. He had been invited to witness the demolition of a house belonging to the perpetrator of a February car bombing that had killed a local physician. The demolition was part of the disposition of the tribal council case.
Khan was traveling with a local official and a tribal chief who had taken a role in the case, according to news reports. Their car was third in a convoy returning from the area, reports said, suggesting it might have been targeted.
Javed Khan, Markaz and DM Digital TV
July 3, 2007, in Islamabad
Khan, a photographer for the Islamabad-based daily Markaz and a cameraman for U.K.-based DM Digital TV, was shot in the chest and neck while caught in crossfire between government forces and the students of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, according to media reports. Four other journalists were wounded in the clashes.
News reports said gunfire had come from both sides in the standoff. The source of the fatal shots was not immediately clear. Pakistani security forces had surrounded the mosque in an effort to end a months-long standoff. The mosque, seen as pro-Taliban, had been the center of efforts to remove what leaders saw as undesirable activity such as massage parlors and music shops.
Muhammad Arif, ARY Television
October 19, 2007, in Karachi
Arif was among more than 130 people killed in a bombing during a rally held to celebrate the homecoming of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The cameraman, who was on assignment, was survived by his wife and six children. Bhutto was assassinated two months later at a rally in Rawalpindi.
Zubair Ahmed Mujahid, Jang
November 23, 2007, in Mirpur Khas
Mujahid, correspondent for the national Urdu-language daily Jang, was shot while traveling on a motorcycle with another journalist in the southern province of Sindh, according to local news reports. He was targeted by unidentified gunmen also traveling by motorcycle.
Local journalists believed Mujahid was slain because of his investigative reporting, according to Owais Aslam Ali, secretary-general of the local media group Pakistan Press Foundation. Mujahid was known for his critical writing on issues like mistreatment of the poor by local landlords and police in his Jang weekly column, “Crime and Punishment.” His coverage of alleged police brutality had led to arrests and suspensions of police officers, Ali told CPJ. Mujahid was survived by a wife and four sons. No arrests were made.
Chishti Mujahid, Akbar-e-Jehan
February 9, 2008, in Quetta
An unidentified assailant shot Mujahid, a veteran columnist and photographer, in the head and chest as he left his house, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and local news reports. A spokesman for the banned insurgent group the Baluch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murder in a phone call to the Quetta Press Club, saying Mujahid was “against” the Baluch cause, local news reports said.
Mujahid, an ethnic Punjabi, received several telephone threats after writing about the killing of Baluch leader Balach Marri in November 2007, according to the journalists union. Akbar-e-Jehan, published by the Jang Media Group, was among the country’s largest Urdu-language weekly magazines.
Siraj Uddin, The Nation
February 29, 2008, in Mingora
Uddin died in a suicide bombing that took the lives of more than 40 people, according to Pakistani news reports. No organization claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred at the funeral of a slain police officer and wounded about 80 people, including two other journalists.
The Swat Valley was a focal point of conflict at the time. Militants had taken over much of the area in 2007, and government forces were reasserting some control by early 2008.
Mohammed Ibrahim, Express TV and Daily Express
May 22, 2008, in Khar
Ibrahim, a reporter for Express TV, was gunned down by unidentified men outside Khar, the main town of the Bajaur tribal area, according to news reports. The journalist was returning by motorcycle from an interview with local Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Imtiaz Ali, a Washington Post correspondent based in the nearby regional capital of Peshawar.
The assailants took the footage of Ibrahim’s interview with the Taliban spokesman, said Ali, citing information from local journalists. Ali said that Ibrahim also worked for the Urdu-language Daily Express. No arrests or claims of responsibility were made.
Abdul Aziz Shaheen, Azadi
August 29, 2008, in Swat
A Pakistani airstrike hit the lockup where Shaheen was being held by a local Taliban group in the Swat Valley, according to local news reports citing a Taliban spokesman. The spokesman, Muslim Khan, said Shaheen was among at least 25 people killed in the strike, according to the Daily Times newspaper. The precise location of the Taliban hideout was not reported.
Militants abducted Shaheen, who worked for the local Urdu-language daily Azadi and sometimes filed for other papers, on August 27, 2008, according to local news reports. Owais Aslam Ali, secretary-general of the Pakistan Press Foundation, told CPJ that local journalists believed the Taliban abducted the journalist because of his work.
Shaheen’s car was set on fire a week before he was abducted, although it was not clear whether the Taliban were responsible for that attack, the group reported. It said the journalist was kidnapped from the Peuchar area of the Matta Tehsil subdivision of Swat.
Abdul Razzak Johra, Royal TV
November 3, 2008, in Punjab
Six armed men dragged reporter Johra from his home in the Mianwali district of Punjab and shot him, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The attack came a day after his report on local drug trafficking was aired nationally.
Colleagues said Johra, 45, who had done earlier reports on the drug trade, had received threats telling him to stop covering the issue. Police took no evident steps to investigate the murder, according to local journalists.
Mohammad Imran, Express TV
Tahir Awan, freelance
January 4, 2009, in Dera Ismail Khan
A suicide bomber killed Imran, a cameraman trainee for Express TV, and Tahir Awan, a freelance reporter for the local Eitedal and Apna Akhbar newspapers, in North West Frontier Province, now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and local news reports.
The fatal explosion occurred in the wake of a smaller blast and apparently was intended to target the early responders to the scene, the reports said. At least five other people were killed and several more injured, including police and civilians, in the early evening attack, according to the news reports.
Musa Khankhel, Geo TV and The News
February 18, 2009, in Swat
No one claimed responsibility for the killing of Khankhel, who died in the first violation of a truce called two days earlier between the government and local militant groups, according to local and international news reports. Khankhel was targeted while covering a peace march led by Muslim cleric Sufi Muhammad, father-in-law of local Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, the reports said. Muhammad was seeking to recruit his son-in-law to join a cease-fire agreement he had negotiated with the government.
Geo Managing Director Azhar Abbas told CPJ that Khankhel had become separated from the rest of his four-person reporting team in a militant-controlled area near the town of Matta. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and back of the head, Abbas said. A BBC report citing Khankhel’s brother said the journalist had been abducted at gunpoint from the peace march, and that his hands and feet were bound when his body was discovered.
Khankhel had told supervisors that the army was retaliating against him for his aggressive coverage of the military offensive in Swat. He said he was being threatened, denied access, and barred from news conferences. Hamid Mir, his supervisor at the time, told CPJ that Khankhel called him on the day of the murder to say that he feared for his life and believed the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate intended to kill him. Mir said Khankel was killed just hours later.
Janullah Hashimzada, freelance
August 24, 2009, in Jamrud
Four unidentified gunmen fired on the Afghan journalist and his colleague, Ali Khan, while they were traveling on a public minibus near the town of Jamrud, Khyber Agency, northwestern Pakistan, according to local and international news reports.
A white sedan carrying the gunmen intercepted the bus with Hashimzada and Khan as it was en route to Peshawar from the Afghan border town of Torkham, according to The Associated Press. The gunmen targeted the journalists, killing Hashimzada and severely injuring Khan, according to AP. No other injuries were reported. The type of vehicle used by the gunmen is standard issue for Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
Both journalists worked for Afghanistan’s Shamshad TV. Hashimzada, the station’s Peshawar-based bureau chief for Pakistan, also reported for AP, the Pajhwok Afghan News agency, and other news outlets, the reports said. No one claimed responsibility for the killing, according to news reports.
Hashimzada was known as a critic of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and his reports had challenged the authorities and intelligence agencies in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, the reports said. “He received threats four weeks ago to leave Peshawar and not report Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity in Pakistan. It is clear he lost his life for reporting,” Danish Karokhel, director of Pajhwok Afghan News agency, told CPJ.
Daud Khattak, a local journalist who later joined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, said Hashimzada had recently interviewed a Taliban spokesman in the Hyatabad area of Peshawar. The story was potentially embarrassing to the military because it showed that a prominent Taliban official was living openly in a main city.
Malik Arif, Samaa TV
April 16, 2010, in Quetta
Arif, a cameraman, was killed in a suicide bombing at a local hospital, news reports said. The blast occurred outside the emergency ward of Civil Hospital in Quetta, capital of restive Baluchistan province, killing at least eight people and injuring numerous others, including five journalists. The journalists were covering a Shia demonstration outside the hospital, where a prominent local Shia bank manager had been taken after an attack.
Azamat Ali Bangash, Samaa TV
April 17, 2010, in Orakzai
Bangash, 34, a cameraman and correspondent, was killed in a suicide bombing while covering food distribution in a refugee camp near Orakzai, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas near the border with Afghanistan. He was the second Samaa journalist killed in a suicide bombing in two days.
As many as 47 refugees from fighting in northwest Pakistan died when a pair of suicide bombers, striking minutes apart, attacked a distribution line, news reports said. The BBC and CNN said the Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the explosions, which targeted the Shia refugees. The bombing was one of five in northwest Pakistan that took place between April 14 and April 17, 2010.
Bangash, who died at a nearby field hospital, was survived by a wife and three children.
Ghulam Rasool Birhamani, Daily Sindhu Hyderabad
May 9 or 10, 2010, in Wahi Pandhi
The body of Birhamani, 40, a reporter for the Daily Sindhu Hyderabad, was found outside his hometown of Wahi Pandhi, Sindh province, on May 10, a day after he was reported kidnapped. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the media support group Pakistan Press Foundation reported that his body was badly scarred and showed evidence of torture.
Birhamani’s family believed he was killed because of his reporting on ethnic issues in Sindh province, the journalists union said. A colleague told the newspaper Dawn that Birhamani’s story on the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to a 22-year-old man might have been the specific trigger for the attack. Birhamani had received threats from members of the Lashari tribe just days before he was seized, the press foundation said.
Hundreds of journalists turned out for a march to protest his killing. Dawn quoted some of the demonstrators as saying that police were reluctant to investigate because of political sensitivities. The journalists union said Birhamani had worked for many years for various Sindhi-language dailies. He left behind a wife, two sons, and a daughter.
Ejazul Haq, City-42 TV
May 28, 2010, in Lahore
Haq, 42, a technician for the local Lahore cable station City-42 TV, was killed while working at the scene of an armed attack on a Muslim minority Ahmadi mosque, according to news accounts and CPJ interviews.
Haq was reporting live via cellphone from the scene, which was in his neighborhood. Colleagues at City-42 TV said the shots that struck him could be heard on the air. It was not clear who fired the fatal shots during the fighting, in which Sunni Muslim gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the mosque while police and military groups engaged them in close fire.
Pakistani media reports said Haq was survived by a wife, a daughter, and a son. An eight-year veteran of the profession, he had worked for City-42 for the previous three years, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
The mosque was one of two Ahmadi mosques that came under attack that day. More than 90 people were killed in the sieges, which lasted for several hours. The events were covered live by many of Pakistan’s news channels.
Ejaz Raisani, Samaa TV
September 6, 2010, in Quetta
Raisani, a cameraman, died in a military hospital of gunshot wounds he suffered three days earlier while covering a rally that turned violent in Quetta, according to local and international news reports.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Shia demonstration, prompting gunfire and other violence that killed more than 70 people and left 200 others injured, including several other journalists, news reports said. The Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi each claimed responsibility for the bombing, one in a series of recent assaults on Shia gatherings, local news reports said. Some news reports linked the violence that followed the Quetta bombing to the surviving protesters.
Mohammad Sarwar, a driver working for Aaj TV, was also killed in the violence. Six journalists were among the wounded. Raisani was married with two children.
Police took 20 suspects into custody and Baluchistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani formed a judicial tribunal to investigate the attack, The Express Tribune reported. As of February 2013, no suspect had been convicted of a crime, according to Zahid Hussain, director of news at Samaa TV.
Misri Khan, Ausaf and Mashriq
September 14, 2010, in Hangu
Khan, a newspaper reporter and head of the local journalists association, was shot several times as he entered the press club building in Hangu, near the border with Afghanistan, according to news reports and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. Shahid Sabir, news editor for the Urdu-language daily Ausaf, said two or more assailants had apparently been lying in wait.
Khan was a reporter for Ausaf, as well as Mashriq, an Urdu-language daily published in Peshawar, provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Khan was also president of the Hangu Union of Journalists.
The English-language daily Dawn reported that Khan had received threats from militant organizations. Khan had been a journalist for more than 20 years, reporting for several newspapers during his career, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. He was survived by a wife, six sons, and five daughters.
Abdul Wahab, Express News
Pervez Khan, Waqt TV
December 6, 2010, in Ghalanai
Wahab and Khan were among 50 people killed in a double-suicide bomb attack in the Mohmand tribal district, according to international news reports.
The journalists were covering a meeting of tribal leaders and government officials in Ghalanai, the administrative center of the region, when two suicide bombers wearing police uniforms detonated explosives. News reports said the meeting was called to discuss the formation of an anti-Taliban militia. Agence France-Presse said a Pakistani Taliban group took credit for the attack, which injured more than 100 people.
The journalists worked as both cameramen and reporters.
Wali Khan Babar, Geo TV
January 13, 2011, in Karachi
Babar, 28, was shot shortly after his story on gang violence aired on the country’s most widely watched broadcaster, Geo TV. At least two assailants intercepted the journalist’s car at 9:20 p.m. in Karachi’s Liaquatabad area, shooting him four times in the head and once in the neck, Geo TV Managing Director Azhar Abbas told CPJ. Witnesses said one assailant spoke to Babar briefly before opening fire, Abbas said.
In April, police announced the arrests of five people and said additional suspects were at large. In all, police said, at least 17 men were involved in the murder plot. Police, based on statements given by the suspects, described a plot organized by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, Pakistan’s third-largest political party and considered its most influential secular political organization. A Joint Investigation Team report said the killing had been ordered by Agha Murtaza, a South Africa-based MQM operative. Zulfikar Mirza, home minister of Sindh, was outspoken at the time in saying that MQM operatives were responsible for the killing.
Local journalists believe the killing was prompted by Babar’s aggressive reporting on violent political turf wars, extortion, targeted killings, electricity theft, and land-grabbing.
Just weeks after Babar was slain, several people connected to the investigation were murdered. They included a police informant, two police constables, and the brother of an investigating officer. One of the constables, Asif Rafiq, was on the scene when Babar was murdered and had identified the plotters’ vehicle. On November 10, 2012, two gunmen aboard a motorcycle killed Haidar Ali, the only remaining witness in the case, near his home in the Soldier Bazaar area of Karachi. He was due to testify in court two days later.
The original prosecutors in the case—Muhammad Khan Buriro and Mobashir Mirza—told CPJ that they were threatened and eventually fired. They fled the country in late 2011.
Nasrullah Khan Afridi, Pakistan Television and Mashriq
May 10, 2011, in Peshawar
Afridi, a reporter for Pakistan Television and the local Mashriq newspaper, was killed when his car blew up in the city of Peshawar, according to local and international news reports. An explosive device was detonated remotely shortly after he returned to the vehicle, which was parked in a densely populated shopping area, news reports said.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists said Afridi, who was also the president of the Tribal Union of Journalists, had moved to Peshawar to flee militant groups.
In May 2006, CPJ reported, unidentified assailants had lobbed two hand grenades at Afridi’s house in Bara, the main town of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Afridi had been the target of a death threat issued on a pirate radio station run by the Islamic militant organization Lashkar-e-Islam. The threat came after Afridi reported that the authorities suspected Lashkar-e-Islam of being responsible for an attack in which a paramilitary soldier was injured.
The journalist moved to Islamabad after the attack but said officials there would not heed his complaints of being under threat. He then moved to the wealthy Hayatabad area of Peshawar. But in mid-2007, grenades were lobbed at his home there. No one was injured in that attack.
Afridi was a popular, senior figure in the tightly knit journalist community in the dangerous areas along the Afghan border. Hundreds of people, including colleagues, political leaders, and tribal elders, attended his memorial service. No arrests were made in the case.
Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online
May 29 or 30, 2011, in Mandi Bahauddin
Shahzad, 40, vanished on May 29 after writing about alleged links between Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Navy. His body was found on May 31 in a canal near the town of Mandi Bahauddin, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of the capital, Islamabad. His friends said the body showed signs of torture around the face and neck. He had told colleagues that he had been receiving threats from intelligence officials in recent months.
Shahzad was reported missing after he failed to show up for a televised panel discussion in Islamabad. He was scheduled to discuss his recent article for Asia Times Online in which he reported that Al-Qaeda, having infiltrated the Pakistani Navy, was behind a 17-hour siege at a naval base in Karachi on May 22. He said the attack came after military or security officials refused to release a group of naval officials suspected of being linked to militant groups. The attack, coming soon after the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, was deeply embarrassing to the Pakistani military. Earlier in May, three navy buses carrying recruits were blown up via remote control devices in Karachi, the large port city where the navy has its headquarters.
Shahzad’s death also came a few days after the release of his book, Inside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
For months, the journalist had been telling friends that he had been warned by intelligence agents to stop reporting on sensitive security matters. In October 2010, Shahzad told Ali Dayan Hasan, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, that he had been threatened by a top official at a meeting at the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in Rawalpindi.
Hasan said Shahzad sent him a note describing the meeting “in case something happens to me or my family in the future,” Human Rights Watch reported. Hameed Haroon, president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society and a former employer of Shahzad, said he had received a similar message at about the same time.
In July 2011, The New York Times reported that U.S. officials had reliable intelligence that showed that the ISI was responsible for Shahzad’s murder. Pakistan’s official commission of inquiry concluded in January 2012 that the perpetrators were unknown, a finding that was widely criticized as lacking credibility.
Asfandyar Khan, Akhbar-e-Khyber
June 11, 2011, in Peshawar
Shafiullah Khan, The News
June 17, 2011, in Wah Cantonment
Asfandyar Khan, a reporter for the newspaper Akhbar-e-Khyber, died in a double bombing that took the lives of more than three dozen people. Shafiullah Khan, a trainee reporter at the daily The News, died six days later from extensive burns and shrapnel wounds suffered in the attack. Seven other journalists were injured.
The first, small blast went off at a market, drawing a large crowd that included journalists covering the story, according to news reports and local journalists. A second, larger explosion, apparently a suicide bomb, went off after the crowd had grown.
The attack took place near the city center, in an area where military facilities are concentrated and where many major Pakistani media organizations have their offices. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, and it was not clear if journalists or military personnel were the targets.
Faisal Qureshi, London Post
October 7, 2011, in Lahore
The body of Qureshi, 31, an editor for the political news website The London Post, was discovered about 2 a.m. by his brother Zahid after family members found blood stains outside the journalist’s house, the Pakistani daily The Express Tribune reported. Police reports said Qureshi’s throat had been cut and described his body as showing signs of torture, The Express Tribune said.
Another brother, Shahid, who lives in London, told CPJ that the killers had taken the journalist’s laptop and telephone. Shahid Qureshi, who also wrote for The London Post website, told CPJ that he and his brother had received death threats from men who claimed they were from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM. The London Post, which was widely recognized as anti-MQM, had run a series of critical stories on the party’s exiled leader, Altaf Hussain.
Police arrested Faisal Hameed, a childhood friend of Qureshi, in December 2011, alleging monetary motives, according to local news reports. As of February 2013, Hameed remained in custody pending trial. An investigative documentary produced by Samaa TV raised numerous questions about the police investigation and cast doubt on the allegations against Hameed.
Javed Naseer Rind, Daily Tawar
November 2011, in Khuzdar
Rind’s body was found in Khuzdar on November 5, nearly two months after he was abducted, according to news reports. The journalist had been shot multiple times in the head and chest, and his body showed numerous signs of torture, local news media reported. The killing appeared to have occurred shortly before the discovery.
An editor and columnist with the Urdu-language daily Daily Tawar, Rind was kidnapped in his hometown of Hub in southern Baluchistan province on September 11. The Daily Tawar was known for its coverage of the many conflicts between rival groups and the government. Rind was also an active member of the separatist Baluch National Movement, news reports said.
The Baluchistan Union of Journalists condemned Rind’s kidnapping and murder and demanded that the government put together a high-level committee to investigate the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the killing.
Mukarram Khan Aatif, Deewa Radio
January 17, 2012, in Shabqadar
Two gunmen killed Aatif, a reporter for the Pashto-language service of the U.S. government-funded Voice of America, at a mosque in Shabqadar, north of Peshawar. The assailants, who struck during evening prayers, shot Aatif multiple times before fleeing on motorcycles, police told reporters. Aatif died of his injuries at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. An imam was injured in the attack.
Taliban spokesmen spoke to several news outlets, taking responsibility for the killing. Ihsanullah Ihsan told The Associated Press that Aatif had been warned “a number of times to stop anti-Taliban reporting, but he didn’t do so. He finally met his fate.”
Several CPJ sources said they were skeptical Aatif had been killed on the orders of the Taliban or for the publicly stated reasons. Aatif told friends and relatives that he started receiving threats from military and intelligence officials immediately after covering a November 2011 attack by U.S.-led NATO forces on Pakistani army check posts at Salala, near the border with Afghanistan. Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers died in the attack. Aatif filed reports on the attack for Deewa Radio and took part in what are called two-ways, which are live exchanges with the station’s studio journalists.
Aatif had spoken to local residents who said a Taliban hideout was just two kilometers from the army check posts, a tribal area journalist told CPJ. The Taliban’s proximity to the army posts was highly sensitive information because it could have provided justification for the American attack. An official with the U.S. National Security Council told CPJ that a Special Forces team launched the attack after taking fire from the area of the Pakistani check posts.
Deewa Radio said Aatif’s reports explained the geography of the area but did not mention the Taliban. Deewa did not respond to CPJ’s repeated queries seeking information on what was said by the station’s studio journalists during their live two-way exchanges with Aatif. Deewa said no archive of Aatif’s reports was available. Multiple CPJ sources in Pakistan and the United States said the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate was believed to be behind the murder. A Pakistani security official said the speculation was unsubstantiated.
Razzaq Gul, Express News TV
May 19, 2012, in Turbat
Gul, 35, a senior reporter with Express News TV in Turbat, a city in the Kech district of Baluchistan, was abducted near his home on the evening of May 18, according to news reports. His body was found the next day with several bullet wounds and marks that indicated he had been tortured, his family told local journalists.
Gul was a member of the Baluch National Movement, a nationalist political organization, and was the secretary of the Press Club of Turbat, according to news reports. His colleagues at the club told Express News TV that Gul had not mentioned receiving any threats. No group claimed responsibility for his death.
Abdul Qadir Hajizai, WASH TV
May 28, 2012, in Quetta
Armed men shot Hajizai, a headmaster of a middle school who also worked at WASH TV, a private Baluchi-language TV channel, according to local news reports. The journalist was taken to a hospital, where he died, the reports said.
Hajizai was killed in the Basima area of Washik district, home of the Shamsi Air Field, which was used by the United States as a base for surveillance and drone operations against militants in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Two days after Hajizai’s death, the Baluch Liberation Front, an armed separatist group, claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a government informer. The journalist’s colleagues said they were unaware of any threats made against him.
The Baluchistan Union of Journalists issued a statement protesting the killing and appealed to the Supreme Court and the Baluchistan High Court to address the rising level of threats to journalists.
Abdul Haq Baloch, ARY Television
September 29, 2012, in Khuzdar
Unidentified assailants shot Haq as he was leaving the Khuzdar Press Club in the city of Khuzdar in Baluchistan province. Haq was the secretary-general of the press club and a longtime local correspondent for ARY Television.
ARY Television said it was not aware of any threats directed at Haq. But Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, wrote after Haq’s death that the journalist had been threatened by the Baluch Musalah Diffa Army (BMDA, or the Armed Baluch Defense) in November 2011 and had subsequently been named on a hit list issued by a BMDA spokesman.
Tensions with the press had escalated after the Baluchistan High Court barred news coverage of banned groups in October 2011. Several of the banned groups began threatening local journalists for not reporting on their militant operations.
Haq’s family declined to discuss widespread assertions by his colleagues that he had been killed because security forces were angry that he was working with the families of missing Baluchis on presenting cases before the Quetta bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. At the time of Haq’s death, the court was hearing more than 100 missing-person cases in Baluchistan. Of those cases, 19 were from Khuzdar.
Mushtaq Khand, Dharti Television Network and Mehran
October 7, 2012, in Khairpur
Khand, 35, was among six people killed when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. A 10-year veteran journalist, Khand was a reporter for Dharti Television Network and had been the president of the Khairpur Press Club for five years. He had also worked for the Sindhi newspaper Mehran in Hyderabad.
Police conducted overnight raids after the shooting and arrested 10 unidentified suspects, news reports said. News accounts reported different motives for the shooting. Investigators first blamed a family feud for the attack; Geo TV reported the gunfire erupted after an argument between two rival groups at the rally.
Khand was survived by two wives and several children. After his funeral in his home village near Khairpur, his colleagues and friends demonstrated in front of the Khairpur Press Club, protesting against the government for failing to protect its citizens.
Rehmatullah Abid, Dunya News and Intikhaab
November 18, 2012, in Panjgur
Unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle killed Abid in a barber shop in Panjgur district, about 375 miles (600 kilometers) from Quetta. Abid had worked as a general assignment reporter for the Urdu-language Dunya News, a news and current affairs TV channel, for several years and had also worked for the Urdu-language daily Intikhaab.
According to the Pakistan Press Foundation, Abid was shot six times, once in the head. The PPF also reported that Eesa Tareen, president of the Baluchistan Union of Journalists, said Abid’s family was unaware of any personal enmities that would have caused his death.
Aslam Raisani, chief minister of Baluchistan, issued a statement saying that “hidden hands” were attacking Baluchi journalists to stop them from working, according to news reports. Abid’s colleagues at the PPF said that they believed Abid had been killed because of his reporting. The Baluchistan Union of Journalists appealed to the local and federal governments to address the rising levels of threats to Pakistani journalists.
Saqib Khan, Ummat
November 22, 2012, in Karachi
Khan, a photographer for the Urdu-language paper Ummat, died from injuries he sustained in a bomb explosion that occurred 30 minutes after another blast outside a Shia site in Karachi, according to the International Federation of Journalists and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. Khan was killed while covering the first explosion, the same sources said.
Police said the first blast was a suicide attack, while the second bomb was detonated with a remote-controlled device. The second bomb exploded about 50 feet from the first one, wounding reporters, police officers, and bomb disposal teams who had arrived at the scene.
The bombs exploded at a site frequently used for Shia commemoration ceremonies; Shias were celebrating the holy month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
No group claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, but two days after the explosions, Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called Agence France-Presse and said the Taliban had dispatched more than 20 suicide bombers to target Shia Muslims.
Journalists Killed 2003-2012: Motive Unconfirmed
Here are capsule reports on journalists who were killed in unclear circumstances. When a motive is unclear, but it is possible that a journalist was killed because of his or her work, CPJ classifies the case as “unconfirmed” and continues to investigate. CPJ regularly reclassifies cases based on its ongoing research.
Pakistan Press International
November 1, 2006, in Islamabad
Ismail, Islamabad bureau chief for Pakistan Press International, was found near his home in Islamabad with his head “smashed with some hard blunt object,” according to Mazhar Abbas, then secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The Associated Press reported that a police investigator said an iron bar might have been used as a weapon.
Ismail was last seen the previous night as he was leaving his house to take a walk. Doctors who received the body when it was taken to a local hospital told the journalists union that Ismail had been dead for a few hours before being discovered.
Ismail’s family told Abbas that they were at a loss as to what could have prompted the attack. They told him Ismail, who was nearing retirement, was carrying little of value when he was assaulted. Ismail’s news agency was not known for particularly critical reporting of the government, CPJ research shows.
Sheikh, Sindh TV and Khabrein
April 14, 2008, in Hub
Sheikh, a stringer for Sindh TV and local bureau chief for the national Urdu-language daily Khabrein, was killed by unidentified gunmen as he left his home by motorbike in the town of Hub, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Karachi, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the official Associated Press of Pakistan.
Mazhar Abbas, then the secretary-general of the journalists union, told CPJ he had spoken by telephone with Sheikh’s brother, Ishaq, who was riding on the same motorbike at the time of the attack and had been hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Ishaq said three men on motorbikes carried out the shooting, then checked to make sure the journalist was dead before fleeing, according to Abbas. The brother said he was unaware of any dispute that might have led to the murder, Abbas said.
Raja Assad Hameed, The Nation and Waqt TV
March 26, 2009, in Rawalpindi
Unidentified gunmen killed Hameed, a reporter with the English-language daily The Nation and its Urdu-language television channel, Waqt, while he was parking his car at his house.
Media accounts of the attack varied. Beena Sarwar, a media and human rights activist, looked closely into the murder and described what she found to CPJ: “His family rushed out on hearing the gunshots and found Hameed lying in a pool of blood. The bullets, fired at close range, had pierced his neck and shoulder.” Doctors pronounced the journalist dead on arrival at Benazir Bhutto Hospital.
Hameed was well-known and held in high regard. He was fluent in English, Urdu, and Punjabi, and frequently appeared on Al-Jazeera, analyzing political developments in Pakistan.
The day after the attack, Information Minister Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira told the official Associated Press of Pakistan that “sick-minded criminals must have committed the murder of a journalist in Rawalpindi” and he promised “to leave no stone unturned in investigating the heinous crime.” Rawalpindi police later suspended their investigation without resolution, news reports said.
Wasi Ahmad Qureshi, Daily Azadi and Balochistan Express
April 16, 2009, in Khuzdar
Gunmen opened fire on Qureshi and his colleague, Muhammad Siddiq Mosiani, near a newsstand in Khuzdar district in the southwestern province of Baluchistan on April 11, according to Qureshi’s editor and local news reports.
Qureshi was treated in a local hospital for two gunshot wounds to the stomach, but died five days later, news reports said. Mosiani survived, according to the reports.
The motive for the attack was not immediately clear, according to Asif Baloch, the editor of the Quetta-based Daily Azadi. Local officials said they were investigating but had made no progress, he said. Although some news reports said militants from the separatist Baluchistan Liberation Army carried out the shooting, Baloch said they had not claimed responsibility and had no known reason to attack the journalist.
Siddique Bacha Khan,
August 14, 2009, in Mardan
Unidentified gunmen ambushed correspondent Bacha Khan in the city of Mardan in North West Frontier Province, now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Aaj reported on its website.
He was shot at close range as he was returning to station offices after an interview with the family members of a former military official killed by the Taliban, the channel’s bureau chief, Imtiaz Awan, said on the station’s website. The journalist died en route to the hospital, according to Aaj and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
Lala Hameed Baloch, Daily Intikhab
November 18, 2010, in an area outside Turbat
Hameed’s gunshot-riddled body was found outside Turbat, a city in western Baluchistan province, after he disappeared on October 25 while traveling to his home in Gwader, according to the Gwader Press Club. Local journalists believed he had been seized by Pakistani security officials, according to Mazhar Abbas, former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
Hameed reported for the Urdu-language Daily Intikhab and worked as a stringer for several other news outlets, Abbas said. He was an active supporter of the Baluch National Movement, a political organization that advocates for an autonomous Baluchistan, according to Baluch nationalist websites and local news reports. Both his reporting and his political activities were considered possible motives for his murder, according to Owais Aslam Ali, secretary-general of the Pakistan Press Foundation.
The body of another man, Hamid Ismail, was discovered with Baloch, according to local news reports. Four other bodies were found across Baluchistan during Eid Al-Adha, according to the Lahore-based Daily Times newspaper. Relatives alleged that government officials had targeted the victims for their political activism.
Mehmood Chandio, Awaz
December 5, 2010, in Mirpurkhas
Chandio, bureau chief for the Sindhi-language television station Awaz and president of the local press club, was killed by assailants outside his house in Mirpurkhas, Sindh province, according to news reports. Gunmen shot Chandio at least twice when he answered their knock at his door, according to Mazhar Abbas, former head of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. Chandio, 45, died after being transported to a local hospital.
The motive was not immediately clear. The media support group Rural Media Network Pakistan said Chandio had received threats related to family and business matters. He was also a former member of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, a political party seeking independence for the province. He was survived by his wife, mother, and six children, according to local media reports.
Ilyas Nizzar, Darwanth
January 3, 2011, in Pidarak
Nizzar’s body was found with multiple gunshot wounds along a dirt road in Pidarak, Baluchistan province, six days after he was reported missing, local news reports said.
Alongside Nizzar’s body was that of Qambar Chakar, a Baluch Students Organization leader who disappeared from his home in Turbat on November 27, 2010. A general assignment reporter for the newsmagazine Darwanth, Nizzar was also considered a prominent activist, according to some local news reports.
Abdost Rind, freelance
February 18, 2011, in Turbat
Rind, a 27-year-old part-time reporter for the Daily Eagle, an Urdu-language newspaper, was shot four times before his assailants escaped on a motorcycle in the Turbat area of Baluchistan province. He was pronounced dead at the scene, local news reports said.
Rind was also an activist in the Baluch separatist movement, which has sought greater independence for the vast region and an ultimate break from Pakistani rule. Government military and intelligence operations frequently target activists, and many Baluch journalists straddle the line between political activism and journalism.
Zaman Ibrahim, Daily Extra News
April 2, 2011, in Karachi
Ibrahim was riding his motorcycle when two motorcyclists shot him in the head, according to Pakistani news reports. The journalist had worked for several small Urdu-language papers. He also was involved with a local group called the People’s Aman Committee, the militant counterpoint of the Pakistan People’s Party to the armed militias of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party. The groups are known for their violent tactics.
Ibrahim, 40, had two children. Although he had worked for several different newspapers for several years, his most recent job was at the Daily Extra News. Police told reporters investigating the shooting that they believed he was killed over an internal party dispute.
Muneer Shakir, Online
News Network, Sabzbaat TV
August 14, 2011, in Khuzdar
Shakir, who wrote for the Online News Network and was a correspondent for the Baluch television station Sabzbaat, was shot repeatedly by two men on a motorcycle shortly after midday as he headed home from the press club in Khuzdar, the district capital in the center of Baluchistan, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Shakir’s colleagues in the Baluchistan Union of Journalists said the 30-year-old reporter had been working on and off as a journalist for about eight years, and they did not know of any threats directed at him. Representatives of the Pakistan Press Foundation, a media support group, told CPJ that Shakir had also been an activist with Baluch separatist organizations and said that was the probable reason he was targeted.
Kawish Television Network
May 10, 2012, in Lalu Ranwak
A group of armed men shot Tunio, a reporter for the popular Sindhi news channel Kawish Television Network, in the small office used as the station’s bureau in Lalu Ranwak village in the province of Sindh, about 535 miles (850 kilometers) south of Islamabad, the capital, news reports said. Tunio’s brother, Rustam, and their friend, Deedar Khaskheli, were also killed, the reports said.
Local journalists told CPJ the gunmen were members of the Mughairi tribe, a rival to the Tunio tribal group. Some also said they believed Tunio was murdered because of his story on a failed marriage attempt between two members of the rival clans.