Relative of Deutsche Welle journalist killed by Taliban

German broadcaster urges government to support Afghans working with western media

Taliban fighters trying to track down western-affiliated journalists allegedly shot dead a family member of an editor working for Deutsche Welle and seriously injured another, the German public broadcaster has said.

The state-owned broadcaster said the Taliban had carried out house-to-house searches in western Afghanistan to try to find the journalist, who had already relocated to Germany.

Other family members managed to escape at the last minute and were on the run, a Deutsche Welle spokesperson said.

The broadcaster’s director general, Peter Limbourg, called on the German government to do more to help Afghans who worked with western media in the country.

“The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves,” Limbourg said.

“It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time.”

The reported reprisals against journalists with links to western news outlets undermine Taliban claims they would not seek retaliation against perceived dissidents, and runs counter to the media-friendly image the military group have sought to create by allowing some of its representatives to be interviewed by female presenters for television channels.

The Taliban have raided the homes of at least three journalists affiliated with Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcaster available in 30 languages.

Other Afghan journalists have been killed or abducted. On 8 August, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Toofan Omar, a manager of the privately owned broadcaster Paktia Ghag Radio.

On the same day, Taliban fighters kidnapped Nematullah Hemat, a reporter for the privately owned news channel Gharghasht TV, from his family’s home in Lashkar Gah, southern Helmand province, according to Reuters.

This month gunmen presumed to be Taliban members shot and killed the translator Amdadullah Hamdard, a frequent contributor to Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Writing anonymously in the Guardian, one female Afghan journalist described fleeing her home and province after having previously spoken out against the Taliban and angered them through her journalism.

British media organisations including the Guardian have repeatedly urged the government to evacuate Afghan journalists and translators who worked with UK media outlets.

In Germany, the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers has called on the government to set up an emergency visa programme for Afghan employees.

Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister, said on Thursday that members of Afghan society “especially deserving of protection”, such as journalists and human rights activists, would not need to apply for asylum to get to Germany but would be treated the same as local staff of German government agencies and be issued with three-year residence permits.

Germany, which concluded the withdrawal of its military at the end of June, used to have the second-largest presence of troops in Afghanistan after the US, with about 150,000 soldiers deployed over the past two decades.


Philip Oltermann in Berlin

The GuardianTramp

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