Afghanistan - US troops threaten and censor journalists after killing of civilians



    MONTREAL, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders called for an
explanation from the US Army for threats and censorship against Afghan
journalists, two of them working for the Associated Press (AP), while covering
civilian deaths in shooting by US special forces on the road between Kabul and
Jalalabad in the east.
    "The Afghan investigative commission set up by President Hamid Karzai
after this incident, should urgently shed light on what happened near
Jalalabad, in particular the acts of censorship by the US Army," the worldwide
press freedom organisation said.
    "If the US soldiers had nothing to hide why have they done everything to
prevent the press from covering this blunder?" it asked.
    US marines on March 4 killed a score of civilians and injured around
30 others along the road after they came under an attack from a suicide bomber
in which several people died, east of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, eastern
Afghanistan.
    Half an hour later, a group of journalists, including a photographer and
freelance cameraman working for AP and reporters for Afghanistan's Ariana TV
and Tolo TV, arrived at the scene. A US soldier, accompanied by an Afghan
interpreter, approached the journalists and told them to stop taking photos
and footage of a vehicle in which three civilians had been killed. He then
seized their equipment and deleted all their shots. The journalists, who were
properly accredited, asked another officer for permission to film which was
granted.
    But the first soldier once again prevented them from working and again
wiped their shots. Then he threatened reprisals if any footage was broadcast.
    Journalists Rahmat Gul, Khanwali Kamran and Taqiullah Taqi confirmed that
they had been threatened and the Associated Press said that it would lodge a
complaint with the US Army. The American military said that soldiers had
returned fire after coming under attack, but did not comment on the
accusations made by the journalists.

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Canadian office representative,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax:
(514)521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org; www.rsf.org

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