The Taliban have killed a relative of a Deutsche Welle journalist while they were looking for him in a door-to-door search in Afghanistan, the German state-funded public broadcaster reported on Thursday. The broadcaster has not revealed the name of the journalist, who lives in Germany, saying that he and his family are in danger.
One of the relatives of the journalist was injured while others managed to escape, according to the Deutsche Welle report. Peter Limbourg, the company’s Director General, condemned the killing and asked the German government to take action.
“The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday [Wednesday] 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 organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!”
According to Deutsche Welle, the Taliban have raided the homes of at least three of their journalists.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 14, entering the presidential palace in the capital Kabul and ending an insurgent offensive that ripped through the country. The group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities even as foreign troops were preparing to withdraw from the country by the end of August.
Following the takeover, the Taliban sought to present a moderate face to the world, claiming that they would not seek revenge from anyone. The insurgent group also alleged that it wanted private media to remain independent, but added a caveat – journalists “should not work against national values”.
Taliban searching for those who worked with Nato
A confidential United Nations document accessed by AFP says that the Taliban are intensifying their search for people who worked with the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an intergovernmental military alliance. Both US and Nato forces were present in the war-torn country.
The document was submitted by RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which provides intelligence to the UN, according to BBC.
“There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, the director of RHIPTO, told BBC. “It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”
Several journalists killed
Journalist Toofan Omar, who managed the private radio Paktia Ghag Radio, was killed by the Taliban, Deutsche Welle said, citing government officials.
The German broadcaster also said that journalist Nematullah Hemat, who worked with a private Afghan television channel, was also believed to be kidnapped by the insurgents. The Committee to Protect Journalists had on August 9 sought a thorough investigation from the then Afghanistan authorities into the killing of Omar and the safe return of Hemat.
Earlier on August 2, two men suspected to be Talibani fighters had killed Amdadullah Hamdard, a translator who frequently collaborated to Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, in the city of Jalalabad.
On July 16, Reuters India chief photographer Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering clashes between Afghanistan security forces and the Taliban in Kandahar city. The Taliban, however, had denied that Siddiqui was killed by them knowingly, saying that it was not clear whose shooting caught him in the crossfire between them and the Afghan forces.
In view of these incidents, the Deutsche Welle, along with several other media publications and other associations, including Die Zeit, Der Spiegel and Reporters Without Borders, have asked the German authorities to set up an emergency visa program for their Afghan staff.