Journalists get threats in Afghanistan, 'stop working in Taliban-controlled areas'

Journalists in Afghanistan are suffering from serious threats in conflict areas and have quit working in the Taliban-controlled regions, a country-based media advocacy group said on Tuesday. The group, Nai-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, said some journalists have fled areas recently seized by the Taliban. "Some of our journalists in Taliban-controlled areas escaped," said Sediqullah Tawhidi, head of Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC). Afghan journalists asked the Taliban to ensure the safety of journalists, and freedom of speech.

"In the areas where fighting is ongoing, the government has looked at a place for journalists, and will transfer them if the situation gets worse," a local Afghani quoted Mujib Khalwatgar, head of Nai. The Taliban's offensive has been targeting journalists and innocent civilians. On Sunday, editor-in-chief of Afghanistan's Paktia Ghag radio station, Toofan Omari was killed in the Deh Sabz district of Kabul. While Niamatullah Hemat, editor-in-chief of the local Boost radio station and reporter of Gharghakht TV channel based in Khost province, was taken hostage by the Taliban in Nawa district of Helmand province.

"The Taliban capture new areas in Afghanistan and re-impose repressive laws and retrograde policies on Afghan women that defined its 1996-2001 rule when they enforced their version of Islamic Sharia law. New fatwas (decrees) issued by them forbid women from going out of their homes without male companions while forces men to grow a beard. They also have come up with dowry regulations for girls," said Merajuddin Sharifi, a social activist. The terror group's recent offensive became aggressive soon after the US troops started leaving war-torn Afghanistan in large numbers under the new peace deal signed between Washington and the Taliban in February last year. 

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