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    Pakistani journalist's killing denounced

    JALALABAD (PAN):  Journalists on both sides of the border on Wednesday condemned the murder of a senior tribal reporter in Pakistan's Charsadda district as a huge blow to the independent journalism.

    Mukarram Khan Atif, a correspondent for the Voice of America and a private Pakistani TV channel, was shot dead inside a mosque in the Shabqadar town late on Tuesday.

    The 45-year-old suffered critical wounds to his head and was taken to a hospital in Peshawar, where he succumbed to his injuries.

    Leaving behind two widows, Atif was relocated from the Mohmand tribal region to Charsadda after he received threats from the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for his murder.

    Journalists in eastern Afghanistan held a gathering to denounce Atif's murder. The meeting was attended by media professionals associated with the Committee to Protect Journalists and the South Asian Journalist Union.

    Head of the Journalists Union in the east, Ustad Lal Pacha, told Pajhwok Afghan News independent journalism in the Pakhtun belt was fast becoming difficult. Calling Pakhtun journalists impartial, Pacha urged parties to the conflict on both sides of the border to respect the freedom of expression.

    Tribal Union of Journalists president Safdar Hayat Dawar said their slain colleague was on his way home in the Karkai village, where two unidentified motorcyclists shot him dead. The journalist was accompanied by the prayer leader, who sustained injuries in the attack.

    Dawar said Atif was the 12th tribal journalist to be killed since the 9/11 attacks in the US. Atif had received threats from the insurgents, who had turned the tribal belt into hell for journalists, he remarked.

    Tribal journalists have announced three days of mourning over the murder of their senior colleague, Dawar said.

    ma/mud



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