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Two Afghan Journalists Killed In Radio Station Attack

Shafiq Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani, both in their 20s, died at the scene.
Shafiq Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani, both in their 20s, died at the scene.

Two journalists have been shot and killed after unidentified gunmen stormed a radio station in northeastern Afghanistan, their colleagues and officials say, the latest deadly attack on reporters in the war-torn country.

Shafiq Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani, both in their 20s, died at the scene, said Semin Hussaini, director of Radio Hamsada, a private broadcaster based in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar Province.

Both Hussaini and police said they had no idea of the motive for the February 5 attack.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility.

Provincial police chief Rashid Bashir said that an investigation was under way.

"Two unidentified gunmen entered the radio station's office at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. They opened fire on two reporters who were behind their mics during a live program," Bashir said.

It was the second killing of journalists in Afghanistan this year.

On January 5, journalist Javid Noori was shot dead in his native province of Farah in Afghanistan's west.

A Taliban spokesman said the militant group killed Noori because he worked for the government.

The Taliban and other Islamist groups have repeatedly targeted Afghan journalists, killing 15 in 2018, the deadliest year for Afghanistan's media, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The Paris-based media watchdog urged the police to "conduct a thorough investigation" in order to identify the latest attack's perpetrators and instigators, Reza Moini, the head of RSF's Iran-Afghanistan desk, said in a statement.

Radio Hamsada employs 11 people, including seven women, and has been broadcasting from 6 a.m. to midnight since 2007, according to RSF.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International described the attack as a "horrific crime" and urged the authorities to ensure protection for journalists so they could work "freely and without fear."

In a statement, Amnesty South Asia researcher Zaman Sultani said the attack "once again highlights the risks journalists continue to face in Afghanistan for just doing their job."

The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, said he was "saddened and angered" by the killings.

"It is time to #EndImpunity for crimes against journalists. #PressFreedom," he tweeted.

Afghanistan is ranked 118th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP