Concerns raised over govt official’s ‘involvement’ in Ghor journalist’s death

Media advocacy groups on Friday raised concerns over the safety of journalists after a Ghor provincial council member was killed in a skirmish with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) this week, who suspected him of having assassinated at least two public figures, including a journalist.

The NDS had been investigating Ezatullah Bek in connection with the recent assassinations of journalist Bismellah Adel, and deputy head of the provincial council Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“If high-ranking government officials are involved in the murder of journalists, it raises our concerns and those of our colleagues; we urge the national security and the government of Afghanistan to make public all documents of the involvement of this member of the provincial council and other cases should be considered the same,” said Siddiqullah Tawhidi, Director of Media Watch.

The General Directorate of National Security (NDS) says that Bek was killed on Thursday after a clash with national security forces in the center of Ghor.

One NDS member was also killed in the skirmish and another was injured, the NDS added.

According to the NDS, Bek had been involved in targeted assassinations, equipping and financing the Taliban, and he was suspected of collaborating with the Taliban to eliminate internal opponents.

The NDS meanwhile also published the confessions of a bodyguard as well as a member of Bek’s group. Both confessed to the assassination of Bismillah Adel and Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“Ehsanullah, who is the brother of Ezatullah, a member of the provincial council, repeatedly mentioned the name of a journalist Bismellah Adel and said that we should eliminate it,” said Nooruddin, a close ally of Ezatullah Bek.

“One morning Ehsan, the brother of Ezatullah, who is the commander of 20 Taliban, came to the back of the house and told us to take the mine (IED). We took the mine and stuck it on Abdul Rahim Rezazadah’s car,” said Rezwanullah, a bodyguard of Ezatullah Bek.

This latest development comes after a marked increase in targeted killings across the country – specifically against journalists and civil society members.