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VOA Journalist Killed In North Pakistan


Pakistani VOA journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif who was killed by gunmen on January 17.
Pakistani VOA journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif who was killed by gunmen on January 17.
Unidentified gunmen shot dead tribal journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif near the northern city of Peshawar today.

Aatif was working for Voice of America's (VOA) Pashto-language Deewa Radio and Pakistan’s Urdu language private television channel Dunya.

Deewa Radio managing editor Nafees Takkar told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that the attack took place near Aatif's house in the Shabqadar subdivision of Charsadda district.

"The initial reports that are coming from the region are that [Mukarram Khan Aatif] was offering his evening prayers when two armed masked militants came," Takkar said. "One of them was waiting on a motorcycle and another one went inside the mosque and he shot [Aatif in the] head three times."

Aatif was pronounced dead upon reaching the hospital.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, with spokesman Insanullah Ihsan saying the militants had warned Aatif a "number of times" to stop anti-Taliban reporting.

In an e-mail to RFE/RL, Spozhmai Maiwandi, director of VOA's South Asia division, said: “Most of the VOA Deewa stringers are threatened by the extremists.... I am afraid for others and also for the families of the ones in Washington.”

According to press watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan was the deadliest country for the media in 2011, with at least eight journalists killed in connection with their work.

RFE/RL, with agency reports

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