Reporters Without Borders has appealed to the Pakistani Taliban to stop suicide attacks in public places to avoid casualties among civilians and journalists covering events. Two television reporters – Abdul Wahab of Express News and Pervez Khan of Waqt TV – were killed when two Taliban suicide bombers struck a government compound in Mohmand tribal region yesterday while another journalist was injured. The reporters were covering a meeting of tribal elders and government officials in the compound. Fifty people were killed by the two explosions.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they would target any tribesmen who sided with the government. Taliban leader Umer Khalid told the media that the attack was carried out to avenge the fact that Pakistani security forces in Mohmand had handed over foreign combatants to the US. In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said: "We appeal to the Taliban to immediately stop this repugnant practice of organising suicide bombings at public meetings attended by civilians and covered by journalists."
Last May, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders issued a joint worldwide appeal in which they condemned "with the utmost firmness all recourse to suicide bombings in the middle of crowds of civilians that result in the deaths of innocent people, including media workers." Ironically, during a recent meeting in Peshawar with a Reporters Without Borders representative, Abdul Wahad and Pervez Khan had said security in Mohmand was their biggest problem,"We have to face threats from both sides. The outside world cannot imagine how difficult it is to work in the tribal areas right now," Wahad said.
Tribal Union of Journalists president Ibrahim Shinwari said: "We have lost two colleagues. This new incident has confirmed the vulnerability of the media in this conflict situation." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Mohmand-based journalist said: "As cameramen, they had to get close to this kind of meeting. That is what exposed them to danger." Pakistan is one of the world's most dangerous countries for the media, with 11 journalists killed while performing their duties this year.The Tribal Union of Journalists has decided to observe three days of mourning for the two reporters killed in yesterday's attack.