Five foreign journalists killed in Afghanistan
PESHAWAR- Unidentified armed men ambushed a convoy of foreign journalists in Sarobi area, south of Kabul, and reports are that four foreign and a local journalists, associated with Reuters had been killed.
The convoy was heading towards Kabul from Jalalabad. Reports said that two of them were Italians, one Spanish, one Afghan photographer, working for Reuters and a Pakistani national, whose identity could not be ascertained.
The driver of the vehicle was quoted as saying that a group of armed persons ambushed the convoy forced these journalists to disembark and was taken off the road. The driver informed people in Jalalabad that he heard several bursts of automatic weapons, but could not confirm if the foreign nationals were killed.
The bodies of the journalists were seen along a road 90 kilometers at Pouli-es-the-Kam by some bus passengers, heading for Kabul. A passenger, Tawab said one of the foreigners was a woman. They were killed a short while ago and apparently robbed because the zippered pockets of their clothes were open and empty,” Tawab said.
There was no immediate indication as to whom may have carried out the attack, although there have been reports of groups of bandits operating along the route and rouge Taliban elements are also believed to be in the area
Italy’s President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi confirmed that 39-year-old Italian journalist Maria Grazia Cutuli, one of four journalists missing in Afghanistan, had been killed. The news, unfortunately confirmed, of the death of the young journalist from Corriere della Sera, Maria Grazia Cutuli, fills us with a profound sadness,” said Ciampi, speaking at an official function near the northern city of Turin. He described the journalist’s death as a tragedy, which “makes us feel even more keenly the horror of this war.”
British media group Reuters said it was “very anxious” about its Australian cameraman Hany Burton and Afghan-born Azizullah Haidari, but were unable to confirm the two were in the convoy.
Spain’s El Mundo daily Said its correspondent Julio Fuentes was missing and that he had been in the ambushed convoy.
Cutuli had been working for the Foreign Service of daily Corriere della Sera for the past five years. The paper’s director Ferruccio de Bortoli said: “In some situations, journalists put themselves at greater risk than the military, because there is no security for them and because they act on instinct.”
Italian Foreign Minister Renato Buggiero said in Brussels, where he was attending a European Union (EU) meeting that all the information at the disposal of the Italian authorities pointed to all four journalists being dead.
Cutuli, in what turned out to be her last story in Monday’s newspaper, reported her discovery of a consignment of deadly Sarin nerve gas in an abandoned Taliban base at Farm Hada, an hour from Jalalabad. She said that she and Fuentes had discovered a carton containing 20 glass vials containing thick yellow liquid. The box was marked ‘Sarin Gas’ in Cyrillic lettering.
A group of French journalists working for Radio France Internationale was robbed by bandits with Kalashinkov rifles while heading for Kabul on the same road from Pakistan. They had to turn over all their money and a large part of their possessions.
The United States is “actively” investigating the disappearance of four journalists believed to have been killed in an ambush in Afghanistan, but it cannot confirm they are dead,” the White House said.
“I cannot confirm any of the reports you may have heard about the status of the journalists,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters here. “That is being looked into actively by the United States government, but I have no confirmation on any of that at this moment,” he added.
Source: The News