At least five reporters and two cameramen were assaulted by protesters during Monday’s mass demonstration in Kabul city.
Reporters said that they were hit by protesters while trying to film a clash between some of the demonstrators and security forces.
According to one victim, protestors not only hit them but they also smashed at least one camera and stole another.
Emad Rostaye and Mukhtar Yaqoubi, a reporter and cameraman respectively from 1TV; Farid Halimi and Khatib Karimi reporter and cameraman respectively from Noorin TV and Massoud Hussaini a cameraman from Associated Press (AP) all fell victim to the unruly protesters.
“We told them we want to talk with them [protesters] and want to get footage. At first they agreed but when we got close to the protesters a huge number of protesters attacked us and first they beat my cameraman and after that the protesters took his camera,” said Emad Rostaye 1TV reporter.
Farid Halimi, Noorin TV reporter, said that he was beaten in front of police.
“When I got close to the protesters they whispered with each other that he is also one of those and said he is the cameraman and they also attacked me and beat me. My hand and my whole body is in pain,” Halimi said.
Meanwhile institutions defending journalists condemned the assaults and called for the arrest of the guilty parties.
Afghanistan Journalists Union also criticized the assaults on reporters and called for serious action to be taken against the perpetrators.
“Protesters prevent reporters [from doing their job] and beat them and this action shows that a number of the protesters who wanted to deliver their message to the government violated the law,” said Hamid Mubarez, head of the Afghanistan Journalists Union.
The union warned that if protesters are not arrested and not brought to justice, the lack of action will have a negative effect on media activity.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered on the streets of Kabul on Monday in protest against a planned rerouting of the 500kV power line from Turkmenistan to Kabul.
They gathered in the Deh Mazang area of Kabul city after having their route to the city center blocked.
The protest was sparked by a recent decision to reroute a planned electricity line through Salang instead of Bamiyan.