September 29, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Taliban target media during Kunduz takeover

Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s attacks by the Taliban on several media outlets, especially Roshani Radio and TV, when they seized control of Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan and capital of Kunduz province. As they overran the city, the Taliban occupied government buildings and the headquarters of several news media, including Roshani Radio and TV, an independent broadcaster, where they torched and destroyed much of the equipment. Founded by Sadiqa Sherzai, Roshani Radio and TV normally broadcasts 20 hours a day and provides a great deal of coverage of women’s issues. Nine of its 12 employees are women. Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the situation of the media in Kunduz, which continues to be controlled by the Taliban, and about the fate of several journalists of whom there has been no news since yesterday morning. Around 100 journalists work in Kunduz province, which has at least five radio stations, three TV stations and five newspapers, including two dailies. According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the armed forces were unable to protect journalists and media outlets. “We remind all parties to the conflict – both state and non-state actors – of their obligation to protect journalists,” said Reza Moini, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Afghanistan desk. “International law – including the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols – forbids deliberate attacks by state or non-state actors against media outlets, journalists and other civilians. Attacks on civilian targets constitute war crimes.” Rahimullah Samandar, the head of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association, told Reporters Without Borders: “Some of the journalists were forced to flee by their own means to Kunduz airport, to which the government troops had retreated. All of the media have stopped working.” The seizure of Kunduz has been hailed as a “great victory” by Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was added to the Reporters Without Borders list of “Predators of Press Freedom” this summer after it was reported that Mullah Omar died in 2013. The Taliban have carried out many previous attacks on media outlets in Afghanistan and have ordered their subordinates to target the media. Areas controlled by the Taliban or by Islamic State and have become information “black holes.” Afghanistan’s leading journalists’ associations, including the Afghan Independent Journalists Association and the Afghanistan National Journalists Union, have condemned the attacks in Kunduz and have appealed for assistance for Roshani Radio and TV.