Open Society Foundations on Thursday released a new report, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Deadly Violence to Journalists in Afghanistan,” detailing a host of deadly incidents against journalists during the past 12 months.
The report found that at least 30 journalists and media workers were killed in direct or indirect attacks between April 2017 and May 2018. Many more have been injured or have faced threats. Most cases appear to be related to work related to the news media, such as terrorist activity or vendettas or threats related to reporting that went viral. The report found that at least 26 journalists were killed, 27 injured, and 17 faced threats in connection with their work over the same period of time. A total of 61 attacks were recorded, while 127 people received threats or harassed.
Three journalists were killed in particular during the first three months of the year — Associated Press cameraman Sardar Ahmad and Reuters reporters Nader Mohseni and Omid Memarian, according to the report. Still, the majority of the killings occurred from April to October 2017, when according to press freedom groups Afghanistan has been stuck in an increase in suicide attacks, some carried out by the Taliban, which are on the rise.
The report noted the dangers that Afghan journalists face in “underlining reports from neighborhoods with ties to armed groups,” highlighting that three of the deaths in the first quarter of the year were because of news reports about problems in a lawless area. Only one of those attacks involved a reporter.
The report documented attacks in areas such as Kandahar province, which is considered to be the country’s most dangerous area. During April 2017 to May 2018, the report found, the region had five deaths and six injuries related to journalists. There was also a suicide attack near the Ministry of the Interior that involved nearly two dozen journalists, a threat to another journalist’s life in the eastern province of Paktika, and one more suicide attack which left one journalist injured in the southeastern province of Helmand.
Some of the reports received more than 100 “shout outs” on social media, which the report said “suggests a number of powerful, often anonymous individuals directing or at least tolerating targeted violence against journalists.”
The report found that most of the deaths involved shootings, but that some were stabbings, beheadings, and beatings. The report also found that “suspects” in at least three deaths were released by the authorities.