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Afghan journalists dying in record numbers to report the war
Kabul: Moments after Afghan journalist Samim Faramarz wrapped up his live report on the latest suicide attack in Kabul, a car bomb exploded just metres away, killing him and his cameraman Ramiz Ahmadi.
Their colleagues at Tolo News choked back tears as they reported the deaths live on air — cracking open a divisive debate on how Afghan journalists should operate in such a dangerous environment.
The deaths of Faramarz and Ahmadi on September 5 took the number of journalists and media workers killed in Afghanistan this year to 14, making the country the deadliest in the world for the media.
Among the dead were 13 journalists — the highest number killed in Afghanistan in a single year since the start of the war. The losses have devastated the tight-knit community that faces the real prospect of tragedy every time they go to work.
“When we leave our homes we don’t know whether we will go back alive,” said 1TV reporter Hamid Haidary, who keeps a photo shrine of fallen journalists on a shelf above his desk.
Haidary had gone to the scene of the explosion that killed Faramarz and Ahmadi, but returned to his office minutes before the second bomb detonated.
“It is already too much for us,” agreed Lotfullah Najafizada, director of Tolo, which is Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster.
As security in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, the fear and anxiety is ever-present, he added. “It is not just about the blast site, it is going to a province, it is coming to the office or being in the office — they all are attached to risks and it is difficult sometimes to minimise all of them to zero.”
Sixty journalists and media workers have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban regime and enabled independent media to blossom in its wake — an average of around three a year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). (AFP)