New Delhi, July 16: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday expressed shock over the killing of Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui while covering the Taliban "atrocities" in Kandahar. In a message, Ghani reiterated his government's unwavering commitment to freedom of speech and protection of free media and journalists in Afghanistan.
"I am deeply saddened with the shocking reports that Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering the Taliban atrocities in Kandahar," Ghani said. His message was released by the Afghan embassy in India.
"While I extend my heartfelt condolences to Sidiqqui's family and also to our media family, I reiterate my government's unwavering commitment to freedom of speech and protection of free media and journalists," he said.
Afghan Ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay said Siddiqui was killed in Kandahar on Thursday night while being on an assignment. Danish Siddiqui, Pulitzer Winning Indian Photojournalist, Killed in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province While Covering Fierce Fighting Between Afghan Troops and Taliban Militants.
"Deeply disturbed by the sad news of the killing of a friend, Danish Seddiqi in Kandahar last night. The Indian Journalist & winner of Pulitzer Prize was embedded with Afghan security forces. I met him 2 weeks ago before his departure to Kabul. Condolences to his family & Reuters," Mamundzay tweeted.
In response to queries regarding Siddiqui's death in Afghanistan, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the government is in touch with the photojournalist's family.
"Our Ambassador in Kabul is in touch with Afghan authorities. We are keeping his family informed of the developments," he said. Afghanistan's Tolo News, quoting sources, reported that Siddiqui was killed during clashes in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar. It said fierce fighting has been underway in Kandahar, especially in Spin Boldak, for the last few days.
Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US withdrew the majority of its troops from the country and aimed to complete the drawdown by August 31, ending nearly two-decade of its military presence in the country.
The Taliban was evicted from power by the US-led forces in 2001. Now, as the US is pulling back its troops, the Taliban fighters are attempting to gain control of various parts of the country.
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