Jan. 3, 2019 – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the armed attacks on two radio stations in Afghanistan that were carried out at the end of last month, one in the western province of Herat on December 26 and one in the eastern province of Nuristan on December 23.
In the latest attack, an RPG-2 anti-tank grenade was fired at Nedai Sobh, a radio station based in Ghoryan, in Herat province, on the evening of December 26. Although fired at close range, it caused no injuries and little damage.
The station’s director, Javid Azizi, told RSF that he received a call at 10 a.m. the next morning from an individual identifying himself as a Taliban representative who “claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened to kill all the personnel if our programs continued.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the Taliban were responsible but police spokesman Abdelahad Valizadeh confirmed that the attack did take place and said it was being investigated. Azizi said he thought the Taliban were responsible because “they had already threatened our staff on several occasions for broadcasting music and women’s voices.”
Based in Norgaram, in Nuristan province, Radio Elina was attacked on the evening of December 23 by armed men who, according to station director Bashir Ahmad Ahamadi, “destroyed part of the equipment, including the transmitter, abducted one of the station’s journalists and took two computers.” They released the journalist a few hours later.
The police began an investigation that included visiting the radio station and arresting several suspects but thereafter made little progress. Launched in 2010, the station had not received any threats prior to the attack.
“This increase in violence against the media is unacceptable amid the ongoing peace efforts,” said Réza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “We urge the Afghan government to investigate these attacks thoroughly in order to identify the perpetrators and instigators as quickly as possible. Impunity encourages the media’s enemies. It is vital that protecting journalists becomes a priority for everyone.”
Afghanistan is ranked 118th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.