Thursday 8 September 2011

US soldier killed BBC reporter in Afghanistan

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan has admitted it mistakenly killed BBC reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak (above) in July, BBC News reports.

Isaf said a US soldier mistook the Pashto service journalist for an insurgent when troops responded to a militant attack in the town of Tarin Kowt in southern Uruzgan province.

Nato launched an inquiry after initial reports that Khpulwak had been killed by insurgents were questioned.

Isaf's findings concluded that Khpulwak, 25, was shot dead by an American soldier who mistook him for a suicide bomber.

The report said that Khpulwak had taken refuge in a bathroom in his offices as Isaf troops responded to a "complex attack" by insurgents. It said he appeared to be holding up something that US troops may have thought was a trigger for a suicide bomb but concluded it may have been his press card.

Isaf said Khpulwak's death was tragic and has expressed condolences to his family.

But it said it was confident its soldiers had complied with the laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement and acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Khpulwak, who also worked for the Pajwak Afghan news agency, joined the BBC in 2008.

The Comittee to Protect Journalists Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz said:"While war is always a dangerous assignment for journalists, all sides in the hostilities in Afghanistan should make every effort to minimize the risk to reporters who find themselves in the field of battle.

"It is encouraging to see the International Security Assistance Force accept responsibility for the death of a journalist."

With 23 journalists killed in direct relation to their work since 1992, Afghanistan ranks 10th in the world in the number of journalists killed for their work, CPJ research shows.

Twenty have died since the escalation in hostilities after the September 11 attacks on the United States. International journalists and local journalists working for international outlets make up a large majority of those killed, according to CPJ research.

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