CPJ condemns the killings of three media workers of Express TV

New York, January 17, 2014–Pakistani authorities must conduct an efficient and thorough investigation into today’s attack on an Express TV van in which three media workers were killed and a cameraman injured, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. This is the third attack in six months on the Express Media Group.

“We condemn this latest attack on the Express Media Group in Karachi,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “The inability or unwillingness of authorities to bring perpetrators to justice for the prior attacks on Express illustrates how actors in Pakistan are emboldened to repeat violence against media outlets and bolster this pattern of impunity.”

Four gunmen on two motorcycles opened fire on the channel’s van, which was stationed in the North Nazimabad suburb of Karachi, according to news reports and Kamal Siddiqi, editor of the English-language paper The Express Tribune. A technician, identified in reports only as Waqas; a driver, identified only as Khalid; and an unidentified guard were taken to a local hospital to be treated for their gunshot wounds, but were pronounced dead, the reports said.

A cameraman identified only as Mehtab was also injured in the attack, the reports said. The extent of his injuries was not clear, but he was in stable condition, according to Siddiqui and news reports.

Express Media Group includes The Express Tribune, as well as the Express TV news channel and the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Express. Siddiqi told CPJ that he could not point to any specific reports that could have led to the attack. The outlets report critically on politics, crime, and international affairs, and have periodically received threats.

Siddiqi told CPJ that Ehsanullah Ehsan, former spokesman for the Taliban, contacted the station immediately after the attack and said the group claimed responsibility. Reuters reported that a regional spokesman of the Taliban called them and claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban had also rushed to claim responsibility for the 2012 murder of Mukarram Khan Aatif, but local journalists soon cast doubt on their claim. Journalists in Pakistan are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political parties, the military, and intelligence operatives.

In August, four unidentified gunmen shot at the media company’s newspaper and TV office in Karachi. Siddiqi told CPJ at the time that two staff members sustained minor injuries in the attack. In December, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the offices. Two guards were wounded. No one has been brought to justice in the attacks.

Police are conducting an investigation into today’s attack, which comes as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered law enforcement in Karachi to continue to arrest individuals identified as criminals for their alleged involvement in murder, abductions, and terrorism.

Pakistan is one of the deadliest in the world for the press, according to CPJ research. Pakistan has also been one of the world’s worst nations in combating deadly anti-press violence, CPJ’s Impunity Index shows.

For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Pakistan page.

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