CJFE condemns the shooting of two foreign journalists in eastern Afghanistan

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mr. Mohd Dawood Qayomi
Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
240 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1B9

Dear Mr. Mohd Dawood Qayomi,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE condemns the shooting of two Associated Press journalists that took place in eastern Afghanistan on April 4, 2014. The attack wounded Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon and killed German photographer Anja Niedringhaus. The journalists were attacked while travelling to Khost province, where they intended to report on the presidential election slated for the following day, with a convoy of election workers under the protection of the Afghan National Army and Afghan police.

When the convoy reached a heavily-guarded compound, a unit commander approached the vehicle carrying the journalists and fired directly at the two women, who were seated in the back seat. Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed almost instantly. Kathy Gannon, 60, was shot twice and is said to be in stable condition after undergoing surgery. The officer responsible for the shooting was arrested when he surrendered to police.

The shooting follows two high-profile attacks against foreign journalists and diplomats in Afghanistan. On March 11, British-Swedish radio correspondent Nils Horner was on his way to an interview when he was fatally shot, point-blank, in a Kabul district largely populated by diplomats and expatriates. Less than two weeks later, on March 21, nine civilians died when militants attacked the Serena hotel, a popular site among foreigners staying in Kabul. Agence-France Presse reporter Sardar Ahmad, along with his wife and two of their children, were among the casualties of the attack.

CJFE urgently calls on the government of Afghanistan to investigate these attacks and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Countering impunity in Afghanistan is especially crucial in light of the recent landmark election, which signified the country’s first ever peaceful democratic transfer of power.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Ms. Deborah Lyons, Ambassador of Canada to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs