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Gunmen shoot dead newspaper reporter in NW Pakistan

November 3, 2015

A Pakistani journalist was shot dead by unknown attackers in the troubled northwest Tuesday, police said, a region where reporters are frequently targeted by Islamist militants.

Zaman Mehsud, 40, was killed while riding his motorcycle to the remote Tank district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“Zaman Mehsud was riding his motorcycle when gunmen awaiting along the road opened fire,” Rasool Shah, a senior police official in Tank, told AFP.

He was critically wounded and died of his injuries in hospital, Shah added.

He had been working for three Urdu-language newspapers covering the South Waziristan tribal district and surrounding areas.

Zafrul Islam, another senior government official, confirmed the incident and said Mehsud was hit by five bullets including one in the head.

Police would not comment on the motive for the killing, but journalists in the region work under constant threat from Islamist rebels, mainly the Taliban.

The powerful military also stands accused of using its intelligence agencies to regularly harass and sometimes kill journalists, including Saleem Shahzad whose tortured corpse was discovered near the capital in 2011.

A UN report issued Monday said at least 71 Pakistani journalists and other media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties.

The report criticised a widespread culture of impunity and ranked Pakistan as the world’s fifth worst country in terms of the number of unresolved cases of violence against journalists.

The killing was the fourth attack on members of the media in the past three months.

A TV news technician and journalist were killed in separate incidents in the port city of Karachi in September, while a journalist was shot and injured in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.