The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has reiterated an urgent call to Pakistan’s media managers to take concrete steps to protect their personnel, after two suicide attacks within 24 hours left a reporter and a cameraman dead, and five other media personnel injured.
Veteran reporter Azmat Ali Bangash was among more than 40 people killed when two blasts took place near a camp for internally displaced people in Kohat, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), on Saturday.
Azmat, 54, worked for Samaa TV, Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV).
His death came less than 24 hours after the killing of Samaa TV cameraman Malik Arif in Bajau town on Friday, in an attack on a hospital near the Balochistan capital of Quetta. Nine other people were also killed, and five other media personnel were injured.
“Journalists and media workers in Pakistan contend daily with the extreme risks of working in a tense conflict environment,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“In acknowledging these risks, media managers must make it an urgent priority to ensure their personnel are protected, through the provision of professional training for working safely, safety equipment, and just insurance schemes and assistance to families.”
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, said Azmat was preparing a report on the plight of displaced people when a suicide bomber struck. A second blast occurred moments later, reportedly due to a planted device.
A militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Azmat was well known for his reporting on the operations of security forces against militant groups in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
He also was reportedly on a militant hit list, and had told colleagues of receiving threats after reporting on the death of notorious Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
The IFJ extends its deepest sympathy to the families and colleagues of Azmat Ali Bangash and Malik Arif.