Afghanistan: Slain female journalist, like Malalai Joya, threatened with death for warlord criticism Print E-mail

Pakistan ~~ June 07, 2007 Thursday Jamadi-ul-Awwal 21, 1428

Afghan woman journalist killed

KABUL, June 6: A leading female Afghan journalist was shot dead overnight, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, in the second such killing in a week ­ crimes that have raised alarm among media rights groups.

Zakia Zaki, owner and manager of private Peace Radio in a town 60km north of Kabul, was killed in her home on Tuesday night, the ministry said.

The attackers had not yet been identified, ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.

“Her family has not blamed anybody for the death of Zaki and police have started an intense investigation of the case,” he said.

Zakia Zaki, 35, was also a school headmistress and attended the 2003 meeting which drew up Afghanistan’s post-Taliban constitution.

She was critical of warlords, Afghan Independent Journalists Association president Rahimullah Samander told AFP.

London-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which expressed ‘deep shock’, said she had received several death threats after openly criticising warlords and the Taliban.

The killing came amid mounting anger over the murder in Kabul on May 31 of popular 22-year-old television news presenter Shakiba Sanga Amaj, who was also shot dead in her home.

Police have arrested a suspect for the killing of Amaj but the motive is still unclear. Some reports said her murder may have been related to her refusal to marry someone.

The murder of Amaj has drawn parallels with the unsolved killing in May 2005 of 24-year-old television presenter Shaima Rezayee, also shot dead in her home.-­AFP


 London ~ 2.00pm ~~ Wednesday June 6 2007

Second female Afghan journalist killed in five days

Declan Walsh in Islamabad

Relatives of the Afghan journalist Zakia Zaki, who was shot dead overnight, weep as they sit beside her body. Photograph: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images
A prominent female Afghan journalist has been gunned down inside her home near Kabul, the second such slaying in five days.

Unidentified gunmen fired seven bullets into Zakia Zaki, head of a local radio station, as she slept with her eight-month old son last night. She died instantly.

The shooting occurred in Parwan, a normally peaceful district north of Kabul that includes the giant American airbase at Bagram. It is not normally associated with Taliban activity.

The interior ministry condemned the "act of terror" and police said they had detained four men in connection with the case today.

Zaki, 35, had run the US-funded station Peace Radio since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. She was also headmistress of a local school and ran for parliament in 2005.

She recently received warnings from powerful local commanders to tone down her reporting, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association. "This is a very bad day for female journalists. Our work is becoming increasingly dangerous," said Farida Nekzad of Pajhwok, an Afghan news agency, after returning from Zaki's funeral today.

The killing underlines the lawlessness that plagues even the most stable parts of Afghanistan and highlights the risks faced by young local reporters, particularly women. Conservative Afghans dislike women's participation in the burgeoning media sector and those who ignore warnings from hostile male relatives have been killed.

On Friday Sanga Amach, a 22-year-old news presenter with a private television, was murdered at her Kabul home. A western security official in Kabul said it appeared to have been an honour killing.

Her death echoed a similar one two years ago, when a popular young presenter was also slain in her home. The main suspects were male relatives who felt the woman's behaviour had impugned the family honour.

President Hamid Karzai's government has introduced several measures to encourage women into the workplace and politics. One quarter of seats in the national parliament are reserved for women. But progress has been hindered by poor education, increasing violence and hostility from Afghan men unused to a woman's criticism.

Last month Malalai Joya, Afghanistan's most outspoken female parliamentarian, was banned from the national assembly after she compared her fellow MPs to barnyard animals. Meanwhile in the conflict-affected southern provinces hundreds of girls' schools have closed following a Taliban anti-education campaign of intimidation and arson.

Today Nato said it had lost two soldiers in fighting with the insurgents. Fifty foreign troops have died in Afghanistan so far this compared with about 170 in all of last year.