BBC Reacts to Afghan Ministry Criticism

The BBC strongly takes issue with criticism from the Afghan Ministry of Defence of its news coverage in Afghanistan.In a statement issued on Wednesday 9 January 2008, the ministry claimed that coverage of the assault on Musa Qala in Helmand province was untrue and showed evidence of prejudiced reporting.

The ministry criticised one report that civilians had been killed in the assault on the town, and two other reports in which the BBC was alleged to have said that members of the Afghan National Army had been looting in the town.

A BBC report did quote local people in Musa Qala, interviewed in the aftermath of the military operation to expel the Taleban, who said they had seen civilian casualties.

The BBC report stated: “This is denied by the government and the Ministry of Defence, and [the civilian casualties] were impossible to verify in the time we had on the ground.”

No report alleging looting appeared on the BBC output. The BBC notes that the ministry in Kabul has been unable to produce any evidence to support its allegations.

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