Afghan govt threatens to expel foreign journalists

KABUL: The Afghan government today threatened to expel foreign journalists who violate a ban on reporting attacks during elections and said

it would shut down any

local media outlet that

does the same.

The order was issued by the national security council, which brings together the country’s top security agencies, and was based on national interest, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmad Zahir Faqiri told AFP. The media was free to cover polling on Thursday but reports on violence or attacks were “forbidden”, he said.

“This is an extraordinary situation and all the media must obey the decision.” If the ban is violated, “local agencies will be closed and international journalists will be kicked out,” he said.

“In every democratic country there are extraordinary situations sometimes that the government, for

the sake of national interest and the security of citizens, they have to make decisions,” he said.

The government has come under criticism for attempting to ban media coverage of escalating Taliban violence, fearing that it would deter people from voting in Thursday’s elections.

Fresh bloodshed hit Kabul on Wednesday as Taliban gunmen stormed a bank building and fought pitched battles with police.

Scribes adamant

KABUL: Afghan journalists on Wednesday rejected a Foreign Ministry demand that they suspend the broadcasting of news about attacks or violence on election day, accusing the government of unconstitutional censorship. The Taliban have ramped up attacks ahead of Thursday’s vote, including two suicide bombings against NATO troops, rocket fire on the presidential compound and an armed assault on a bank in recent days. The militant group has also threatened to attack polling stations on Thursday. “We will not obey this order. We will continue with normal reporting and broadcasting of news,” said Rahimullah Samander, head of the Independent Journalist Association of Afghanistan.— AP