Two German journalists killed in Afghanistan

9th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2006, KABUL - The director of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) Erik Betterman called on Afghan authorities Sunday to clarify the circumstances surrounding the murder of two German journalists in northern Afghanistan. Betterman also called on Radio Television Afghanistan and the ISAF to cast some light on what happened. Betterman emphasized that the journalists were not travelling on a Deutsche Welle assigment when they were killed. Afghan police said Sunday that they had intelligence

9 October 2006

KABUL - The director of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) Erik Betterman called on Afghan authorities Sunday to clarify the circumstances surrounding the murder of two German journalists in northern Afghanistan.

Betterman also called on Radio Television Afghanistan and the ISAF to cast some light on what happened.

Betterman emphasized that the journalists were not travelling on a Deutsche Welle assigment when they were killed.

Afghan police said Sunday that they had intelligence on the killers of two German journalists, officials said in a statement Sunday.

The governor of Baghlan province, Sayed Ekram Masumi, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Sunday that five to six people had been identified as suspects and the authorities were "almost certain" that they had murdered Karen Fischer, 30, and Christian Struwe, 38, on Saturday evening.

The Interior Ministry said in Kabul that police had begun an operation in Baghlan to arrest the suspects and was still continuing. The chief of police in Baghlan was at the scene to lead the probe.

The two, who worked for the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), were described as having plenty of experience of Afghanistan and are the first German journalists to be killed in the country since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

Masumi declined to disclose the suspects' names and possible links to radical Islamic or criminal groups before their apprehension.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Zemarai Bashari, ruled out the Taliban as the killers as they were not active in the region near the scene of the deaths.

Taliban spokesman Kari Yussuf Ahmadi denied responsibility Saturday for the killings. "Our mujahideen do not attack journalists," he told dpa.

dpa has learnt that the two journalists had aimed to work on a documentary in Bamyan after being with ISAF, who had warned them about the risks of their trip. The province is the location of the world famous Buddha statues, which the Taliban blew up in March 2001.

According to the ISAF spokesman Dominic White, the two had been working "in connection with ISAF" until last Wednesday, when they went travelling on their own.

Bamyan head of police General Mohammad Jalal Hashimi said the two had been travelling alone and without driver or guide. They had neglected to inform the police in Baghlan of their trip.

The journalists had pitched their tent near the village of Abi Tootak, around 12 metres from the main road to Bamyan, he said.

They were also not properly accredited in Kabul, according to the Afghan Foreign Ministry.

The two were killed by several shots. Hashimi said robbery did not appear to be the motive, as cameras and other equipment had been found intact, along with their vehicle.

On Sunday, their bodies were handed over to the German Embassy in Kabul, a spokesman at the Interior Ministry said.

While Bamyan province is considered fairly quiet, security experts in Baghlan - where the two fell victim to the attack near the village of Abi Tootak - advise caution, as Baghlan is considered "quite problematic."

Betterman expressed deep sorrow at the death of the two and offered his condolences to their relatives and "wished them strength at this difficult time."

In Berlin, the Defence Ministry said the two had not been under German military protection at the time of their death. The German government condemned the attack harshly.

In a statement Saturday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "This terrible act has to be clarified and the perpetrators brought to justice."

Betterman later said: "It was tragic that Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe had to die in a country which they had supported with great personal commitment in the past."

Fischer was an experienced reporter whose main focus lay in covering the Middle East and reconstruction in Afghanistan for DW's German and English language services.

Struwe had worked as a technician for projects backed by Deutsche Welle to set up an international news desk at the Afghan broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan.

International journalists are not generally targeted by rebels.

The last German journalist to be killed in Afghanistan worked for the German weekly magazine Stern. He died during clashes in November 2001 before the Taliban was ousted.

DPA

Subject: German news

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