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Three Killed in Pakistan Press Club Bombing
Pakistan IPI Member Warns: Media Now a ‘Central Target’
VIENNA, 22 Dec. 2009 – At least three people were killed on Tuesday in Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside the city’s Press Club, according to media reports.
Two policemen and a passer-by were killed, Reuters reported. At least 17 people were wounded.
Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, has been wracked by violence since the Pakistani armed forces began an offensive against Pakistani Taliban militants in October.
“It was a suicide attack. The bomber wanted to get into the Press Club and, when our police guard stopped him, he blew himself up,” city police chief Liaqat Ali Khan told Reuters – which noted that Peshawar reporters had said militants had threatened journalists since the beginning of the offensive against the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. According to IPI’s Death Watch, seven journalists have already been murdered there this year.
Owais Ali, an IPI member, and Secretary-General of the Pakistan Press Foundation, told the IPI Secretariat: “Things are getting from bad to worse. There was a time when the press was collateral damage in covering the war on terror. Now it seems the press has become a central target for terrorists.”
He added: “This is another blow for press freedom in Pakistan. It’s high time the government moved beyond issuing routine condemnations for attacks on journalists and moved to providing security for journalists.”
Ali said that many newspapers didn’t have the money to provide proper security at their entrances, and warned that in the absence of concrete measures to bolster media security after Tuesday’s attack some journalists might choose self-censorship rather than remain exposed to the wrath of the militants.
IPI Director David Dadge said: “Pakistan is already one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists out in the field. The fact that journalists are now being attacked in the traditional haven of a press club is another tragic blow for freedom of the media in Pakistan. Journalists must never be targeted because they will not
follow a political or ideological line and I call on the authorities to do everything to ensure that the perpetrators are brought swiftly to justice.”