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    Journalists want bashers punished in 24 hours

    JALALABAD (PAN): A number of journalists, who were physically assaulted by intelligence agents in eastern Nangarhar province after a car suicide bombing on Sunday, staged a protest, giving the authorities 24 hours to bring to justice the assailants.

    The National Directorate of Security (NDS) officials thrashed and used abusive language against reporters with different media outlets, as they arrived at the blast site for coverage.

    Two intelligence agents were killed and three others wounded when the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle in front of the intelligence agency’s office in the Joi Haft area of Jalalabad early in the morning.

    Pajhwok Afghan News’ cameraman and reporters of Aryana, Hewad and Zhwandoon TV channels, as well as an AFP stinger were hit with Kalashnikov butts. The Zhwandoon TV channel reporter was thrice beaten as he tried to video-tape the scene.

    “First they beat me with Kalashnikov butts and took away my camera, then other NDS personnel also roughed me up at the site. While newsmen were asking me regarding the NDS agents’ misbehaviour, they once again thrashed me,” said TV channel reporter, Zyar Khan Yaaz.

    The journalists issued a joint statement, asking the government to bring the officials involved to trial; otherwise they would boycott covering official activities. They also warned of approaching the Presidential Palace if their demand was not met.

    Pajhwok cameraman Babrak Amirzada alleged he was also hit by the intelligence employees in the wake of the explosion. “They took away our cameras and other equipment, forcing us to leave the scene,” he claimed.

    The reporters said that they would complain to the governor’s office and warned of quitting their jobs if provincial officials continued to insult them in the line of duty.

    Writers and Journalists Union head in the east, Ustad Lal Pacha, strongly condemned the incident and asked the government to take stern action against the NDS officials as soon as possible.

    "It is not for the first time that journalists are insulted and abused; it has become a matter of routine," Pacha remarked.