The Taliban has issued a threat to two news channels in Afghanistan and have called for 'direct elimination' of its reporters and personnel, while referring to these news centres as 'military objectives'.
The Taliban, which has carried out multiple attacks in Afghanistan in recent months under the new leadership of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, has put TOLO News and 1TV News on its hit list through a statement released on Monday.
The militant group has accused the two news channels of spreading 'American propaganda' and for carrying 'fabricated' reports about its attacks on women during their brief occupation of Kunduz.
Some journalists told IBTimes India about their concerns following the threat.
Taliban's threat to the Afghan media was sharply worded.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from now onwards does not recognize Tolo and 1 TV channels as media outlets but designates them as military objectives due to their disrespectful and hostile actions towards the Afghan Mujahid nation.
Henceforth no employee, anchor, office, news team and reporter of these TV channels holds any immunity. The Military Commission of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan orders all its Mujahideen take a decisive stand against these two satanic channels. Hereafter all the reporters and associates of these channels will be deemed enemy personnel, all of their centers, offices and dispatched teams will be considered military objectives which will be directly eliminated.
However, Afghan journalists and media organisations have hit back at the Taliban, warning to boycott them if they carried out any attack.
In a joint statement released by all Afghan media unions across TV, Radio, and print, which has been shared with IBTimes India, the country's journalists have said that any attack on the media will be seen as a 'war crime'.
Afghan media, media activists, unions, media watchdog organisations and other media support institutions consider the threat not limited to the two named TV channels, but a threat to all of Afghanistan's media family and to the country's press freedom - which is one of the key achievements of the past 14 years.
Whenever the Taliban or any other group has complaints, they can adopt peaceful means, because any attack on media and journalists is considered a war crime.
We announce that in the event of such threats continuing or any journalists or media organisations harmed by the Taliban or any other group, our first reaction will be to boycott their news coverage.
Rateb Noori, who was a journalist with TOLO News and shifted out only last month, is worried about his security as his photo is among those of the staff of the news channel shared by the Taliban.
"This threat has to be taken seriously. The Taliban have never respected journalists in the past. We have examples of many Afghan journalists killed by Taliban in the past. I myself am worried about their new threat focused on these two channels and the staff members, as Taliban have mentioned these channels as their military targets," Noori told IBTimes India.
"I am worried about my security since they still recognise me as a Tolonews journalist and they have also put up my picture, But let us hope for the best," he said.
Afghanistan's journalists have called on the government and even international organisations to extend their support to the Afghan media in the time of this looming threat.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the Taliban over its threat to the media.
"Now more than ever, Afghanistan needs its journalists to play a mature role in reporting on all sides of the conflict. We condemn these threats against Tolo TV and 1TV and call on Afghan authorities to do their utmost to ensure the safety of all journalists and news outlets," Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said in a statement.