4 journalists and a translator have been murdered on the Jalalabad/Kabul road. Main suspects are bandits.
A caravan of eight vehicles was travelling from Jalalabad to Kabul on Monday November 19th when the first two vehicles were stopped by armed men who ordered the seven occupants out. Three of these were Afghans and the other four are believed to be Western journalists.
The assailants ordered the Afghans to run, and shortly after shots were heard. There were initial reports of bodies lying beside the road but a group of 200 Northern Alliance Mujaheddin who went to search for the reporters were forced back by superior gunfire. They claimed that they had not seen any bodies.
Later, some of those who had fled the scene met up with reporters who had been on the same caravan. They told of four people being taken away and later, shots were heard. The four are believed to be the Spanish El Mundo correspondent Julio Fuentes, Reuters employees Harry Burton, cameraman, an Australian and Afghan photographer Azizullah Haidari and the Italian correspondent for Corriere della Serra, Maria Grazia Cutuli. There were further reports than an Afghan translator had also been shot.
The previous Sunday, a group of journalists from Radio France had been stopped and robbed by armed bandits on the same road.
Although the situation is not yet definitive, these events have been confirmed by El Mundo, Sky News and AFP. In their quest to be the first ones to get the story, international reporters sometimes have to tread a tightrope between safety and insanity. Sometimes the balance goes tragically wrong.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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