Two sons of a leading local journalist were gunned down by men on a motorcycle yesterday in Khuzdar, in the troubled southwestern province of Balochistan, in a suspected reprisal for his reporting or act of intimidation against all journalists in the region.
Siraj Ahmed Khan, 25, died on the spot while Manzoor Ahmed Khan, 22, died from his injuries this morning in a local hospital. Their father, Nadeem Gurjinari, the president of the Khuzdar Press Club and a reporter for the Daily Express and Express News TV, had received repeated threats and had recently stopped writing because of an increase in the frequency of reprisals against journalists.
Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the double murder without delay and to not rule out the possibility that it was a reprisal targeting the victims' father, a well-known journalist.
"If this possibility is confirmed, it will show that the enemies of freedom of information are resorting to the most extreme forms of cruelty and are displaying a complete contempt for the fundamental freedoms courageously defended by media workers," Reporters Without Borders said.
The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) has condemned the attack. “We reminded the government every time that this continuing wave of attacks against the journalists should be checked and every time the government disappointed us," BUJ president Essa Tareen told Reporters Without Borders.
"Balochistan is one of the world's most dangerous regions for the media," Reporters Without Borders said. "Caught between government forces and Balochi armed separatists, journalists are suffering the consequences of the impunity with which their colleagues have been attacked or killed in the past.
"This just encourages an escalation in violence and self-censorship, now the only solution for journalists in this region who want to stay alive. We urge the government to react as a matter of urgency to their repeated attacks on media personnel."
The most recent previous media victim in Balochistan was Abdul Haq Baluch, a reporter for ARY News TV and two newspapers, the Daily Awan and Tawar, who was gunned down in Khuzdar on 29 September. At least eight journalists have been killed in Pakistan so far this year, of whom at least three in Balochistan.
Ranked 151st out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Pakistan was the world's deadliest country for the media for the second year running in 2011 with 10 journalists killed.