Afghanistan - Young radio journalist tortured and killed in Helmand

Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn that Noor Ahmad Noori, a journalist who worked for local radio Bost, was killed yesterday in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand.

“We extend our condolences to Noori’s family and colleagues and we ask the Afghan government to ensure that the investigation promised by Helmand’s governor is effective and leads quickly to the identification of this murder’s perpetrators and instigators,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Noori’s blood-covered body was found in a plastic bag in a Lashkar Gah suburb yesterday evening, after he went missing earlier in the day. A forensic doctor at Lashkar Gah hospital, where the body was taken, said he was tortured before being killed. His death was caused by at least two knife blows to the head and probably strangulation with a scarf.

Provincial governor Mohammad Naim went to the hospital, where he told journalists that he had ordered a “serious investigation” with the aim of catching those responsible.

Radio Bost manager Abdul Salam Zahid told Reporters Without Borders: “He had not been threatened or at least not recently. He was a decent person and his programmes caused no problem. His voice was known to everyone throughout the province. He also hosted special programmes during religious festivities.”

Noori’s family nonetheless insisted that he had received telephone threats.

Aged 26, Noori had been hosting a daily and a weekly religious programme for the past three years. Launched in 2007, Bost broadcasts 17 hours a day and has around 20 employees, most of them unpaid volunteers.

Helmand is one of the country’s most dangerous regions for journalists. At a press conference last month, many Helmand journalists said they felt “powerless against the threats” to which they are exposed and unable to “work properly.”

Abdul Samad Rohani, a BBC reporter, was shot dead by Taliban in Helmand in 2008. The year before that, Adjmal Nasqhbandi, a journalist working as Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo’s guide and fixer, and Sayed Agha, Mastrogiacomo’s driver, were both murdered by Taliban.