Ex-TV Host Killed By Gunmen 1 Day After Taliban Threatens U.S.-Aligned Journalists

A former Afghan television presenter was killed by gunmen Thursday, one day after the Taliban threatened Afghan journalists that the organization considers to be aligned with security agencies supported by the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

Nimat Rawan, who was a former presenter for the popular channel Tolonews, was shot to death by two individuals who fled with his phone while he was travelling in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, said Baheer Ahmadi, a provincial spokesman.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement to warn Afghan journalists against "one-sided news in support of Afghanistan's intelligence," or else "face the consequences."

Responsibility for Rawan's assassination has not yet been claimed by anyone.

Media watch organization Nia said that Rawan was employed at the Finance Ministry's media office before his death.

Ahmadi said that security officials in the area where Rawan was killed have told other journalists that they are being targeted by extremists.

UNESCO found that as many as 76 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan.

The government largely blames the killing of journalists on the Taliban, which has power over half of the country. The Taliban maintains that Afghan intelligence is responsible and is trying to frame the organization, according to AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Nimat Rawan's Coffin Carried
Relatives carry a coffin with the body of former television journalist Nimat Rawan after he was shot dead by gunmen in Kandahar Province on May 6, 2021, a day after the Taliban warned against "biased reporting" by the media. Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

Rawan's killing adds to fears for press freedom in the war-wrecked country and heightens worries over the fate of Afghan journalists as U.S. troops pull out. Many fear violence will spike and reprisals will be taken against those who worked with foreign forces.

Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist.

Last year, at least 15 journalists were killed, and earlier this year, three women employed by media outlets were killed in eastern Afghanistan. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for some of the killings, including the three women. The majority of the targeted journalists have been women.

Afghans Mourn Nimat Rawan
Afghans mourn Nimat Rawan, a former Afghan TV presenter, at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on May 6, 2021. Gunmen killed Rawan on Thursday as he was travelling in the southern city of Kandahar, a provincial official said, adding to fears for press freedom in the war-wrecked country. Sidiqullah Khan/AP Photo