KANDAHAR: A high-profile Afghan television journalist was shot dead in Kandahar city Thursday, officials said, a day after the Taliban warned the media against “biased reporting”.
Kandahar City Police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai told AFP that Newat Rawan was assassinated by “unidentified gunmen”.
He is the host of a popular talk show for Tolo News, the country’s major broadcaster, and joined the Ministry of Finance as a communications expert last month.
“Heartbreaking to hear that a friend and former colleague Nemat Rawan was shot dead in Kandahar city today,” Lotfullah Najafizada, head of Tolo News, posted on Twitter.
The Taliban, blamed for a wave of assassinations of journalists in recent months, denied they were behind his murder.
“The assassination of Nemat Rawan… is not linked to the Islamic Emirate,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said on Twitter, referring to the group by its name from their rule in the 1990s.
However, a Taliban spokesperson warned on Wednesday that media workers who conduct “biased reports” will be “accounted for.”
Rawan is in his 20s, married, and has a three-year-old son.
President Ashraf Ghani said that Rawang’s murder was a “terrorist attack” by the Taliban.
“The terrorists will not be able to silence freedom of expression and weaken our countrymen s belief in a bright future,” he said in a statement.
Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the country s peace council, condemned the Taliban s threat against the media and “any attempts to silence Afghan journalists”.
Members of Afghanistan s educated class — including journalists, activists and judges — have for months been the target of bombings and shootings, forcing many to go into hiding or leave the country.
The killings have escalated since peace talks began last year between the Afghan government and the Taliban, sparking fears that the insurgents are eliminating perceived opponents as negotiations stall.
At least 11 Afghan journalists were killed in 2020, with four more reportedly murdered this year, according to a recent toll from Amnesty International.
In early March, three female media workers were shot dead in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
The Afghan Journalist Security Council recently stated that in the past six months, about 1,000 Afghan media workers have left their jobs.
For a long time, Afghanistan has been rated as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world.