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Monday, March 1, 2021

Afghanistan: Journalist murdered on the first day of 2021

Image:Journalist Bismillah Adil Aimaq. Credit: The Bharat Express.

Bismillah Adil Aimaq, an Afghan journalist and human rights activist was killed by unidentified gunmen in Dara-e-Taimoor village in Ghor province of Afghanistan on the first day of 2021. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its local affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) condemn the heinous assassination and urge the government to urgently set up an independent inquiry and punish the guilty.

The assailants opened fire at Adil Aimaq , 28, editor-in-chief of Voice of Ghor radio, while he was travelling by car to return to Feroz Koh, the provincial capital after visiting his family in a nearby village. Media reported the provincial governor’s spokesman, Arif Abir, saying that others who were inside the car including the journalists’ brother, were unharmed. The assailants immediately fled the scene. No group active in Afghanistan has so far claimed responsibility for the murder. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied their involvement.

Last week, the journalist had made public the death threat he received via Facebook.  According to the AIJA, Bismillah Adil Aimaq was attacked twice in 2020. On November 8, he was attacked in his house and on November 12, he survived an assassination attempt. Despite formal complaints to police, including through the AIJA, the case was not taken seriously by the Afghanistan police.  Bismillah Adel is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Targeted killings of journalists, right activists, religious leaders and civil society activists have become more frequent in recent months as violence escalates in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

Adil Aimaq was the first journalist to be killed in the targeted attack in 2021 while he is the fourth journalist to be killed since the NATO and EU issued a joint statement on December 7, 2020 condemning attacks on journalists and religious leaders. Rahmatullah Nikzad, a reporter, photographer and chief of the Ghazni Journalists’ Union, was assassinated in the first district of Ghazni province on December 21 while on November 12, Radio Free Europe correspondent Elias Daei was killed in a targeted magnetic mine explosion in Lashkar Gah. Similalry,  female reporter Malala Maiwand, and her driver Mohammad Tahir, were shot and killed when assailants opened fire on their car  in December 10.

The AIJA said: “The AIJA condemns the assassination and extends heartfelt condolence to the family- members of the deceased journalist Bismillah Adil Aimaq. We urge the security institutions to investigate the case and arrest the killers.” 

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “The brutal murder of Bismillah Adil Aimaq on the first day of the 2021 indicates the fragile situation facing journalists in Afghanistan, which already saw at least eight journalists killed in 2020.  The IFJ calls for an impartial investigation in to the case and for steps to be taken to punish the guilty. The IFJ once again demands that the Afghan government must increase its efforts to ensure the safety of journalists in this volatile space.”

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