Protests in Pakistan over reporter’s killing

QUETTA (TIP): Journalists across Pakistan staged protest rallies on Tuesday to condemn the killing of a television reporter in insurgency-torn Baluchistan on the Afghan and Iranian border.

Police said Abdul Haq Baluch, 37, who worked for private TV channel ARY, was shot late on Saturday while driving home in the town of Khuzdar, 230 kilometres (145 miles) south of the provincial capital Quetta.

Journalists said masked men opened fire on his car around 100 yards from the local press club. Police officer Abdul Qadir Kamrani confirmed the killing and told AFP that Baluch died of his injuries en route to hospital.

Police have registered a case against “unidentified gunmen”.

Baluchistan is one of Pakistan’s most deprived areas. Separatist rebels have been fighting since 2004 for autonomy and a greater share of oil, gas and mineral deposits in the southwestern province.

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Human rights groups say hundreds have been detained, killed or gone missing as government forces try to crush the uprising by ethnic Baluch groups.

Farooq Faisal, president of the national press club, said journalists were protesting against extremely difficult working conditions in Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where a Taliban insurgency is concentrated.

“Armed groups are threatening journalists but the government is taking no step for their protection,” Faisal told. Nadeem Gorgnari, president of the Khuzdar press club, told AFP that Baluch and the club had received threatening telephone calls. According to press watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan was the deadliest country for the media in 2011 with at least eight journalists killed in connection with their work.

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