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UNESCO chief joins condemnation of killing of journalists in Afghanistan

UNESCO chief joins condemnation of killing of journalists in Afghanistan

Calling for greater efforts to protect the safety of the media in Afghanistan, the head of the United Nations body mandated to defend freedom of the press today added his voice to the condemnation of the murder of two German journalists in the strife-torn country at the weekend.

“It is essential that journalists, whether Afghan or foreign, be able to carry out their professional activities safely,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Their ability to exercise their basic human right of freedom of expression is essential to the establishment of democracy and rule of law in Afghanistan.”

Karen Fischer, 30, and Christian Struwe, 38, who had been researching a television documentary for the German network Deutsche Welle, were killed on Saturday when they were attacked in the northern province of Baghlan, about 150 kilometres northwest of the capital, Kabul.

Ms. Fischer and Mr. Struwe had visited several UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) projects in northern Afghanistan and were en route to the central province of Bamiyan, the site of ancient Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban regime in early 2001.

On Monday the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) offered their condolences to the families and friends of the two German journalists and said their murders underscored the continuing dangers faced by journalists working in Afghanistan.