Already forced to operate in one of the world’s most hostile environments for journalists, Afghan television stations are now being openly targeted by Islamist insurgents in a widening insurgency that threatens cities across the country.
The Taliban’s brief capture of the northern city of Kunduz last month, the first time in 14 years of fighting it had taken a provincial centre, underlined how far its military strength has grown since NATO forces ended combat operations last year.
Amid reports of summary executions, kidnappings and other abuses, the Taliban also issued a grim warning to two Afghan television stations, Tolo News and 1 TV, designating them as “military objectives”.
Both stations had reported allegations of rape by Taliban fighters during the fighting in Kunduz, incensing the militant Islamist movement, which accused them of spearheading a U.S.-sponsored propaganda campaign.
It said reporters and offices of the channels would be considered “enemy personnel” and would be “eliminated”.
Tolo News, Afghanistan’s first 24-hour news channel, has been one of the most active reporting operations in the country for years, employing dozens of journalists, many in volatile provincial areas.
“It’s unprecedented, I’ve never seen this,” said its director, Lotfullah Najafizada.
Part of Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster, the station has won a reputation for fast, credible reporting in a shifting media landscape that features scores of newspapers, broadcasters and online news sites. It insists it was scrupulous in reporting all sides of the Kunduz fighting, including allowing Taliban spokesmen a right of reply.
“For us, it was the biggest story of the past 14 years,” Najafizada told Reuters in an interview at the group’s heavily guarded headquarters in Kabul. “We dispatched our biggest team to the city. About 10 reporters were on the ground.”
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر