Paramilitary force detained five tribal journalists and a press club employee after a magnetic bomb was discovered beneath the car they were riding in Landikotal town in Khyber tribal district bordering Peshawar on Friday – 24 November 2017.
Four journalists were freed after 12 hours while owner of the car – Khalil Afridi – was still detained and grilled for the magnetic bomb the paramilitary Frontier Corps investigators suspected was “targeting” the paramilitary force personnel on the day when a Vintage Cars Rally was on its way to Landikotal town.
“We were blindfolded for six hours and sat on floor while investigated,” one of the journalists who was among the detainees told Freedom Network by phone. He wished not to be named.
The detained journalists included Khalil Afridi of Khyber News channel, Farhad Shinwari of Mashaal Radio, Mehrab Shah Afridi of Tribal News Network, Umar Shinwari of Pakistan Television channel and Imran Khattak of Khabran newspaper.
“It has been the worst day of my life,” the journalist spoke of ordeal he and his colleagues faced after the bomb was defused moments after local authorities spotted the magnetic bomb while the journalists were riding in line of professional duty.
Khyber tribal district is governed through ruthless Frontier Crimes Regulations under which the accused has no legal assistance to seek against any illegal or legal situation arising out in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
In FATA, media is not allowed to work legally as the country’s regulations regulating print and electronic media are not extended there and journalists enjoy no legal assistance to face such situation.
It was said that the bomb was seen by local tribal police when the car crossed a check-post and they called a journalist inside the car to “stop immediately and get off the car” as a magnetic bomb was planted beneath the car.
Tribal journalist Nasrullah Afridi was killed in May 2011 in Peshawar when a bomb planted in his car went off seconds after the journalist switched on the engine
“As I heard the caller I cried at the journalist Khalil Afridi, who was driving, to stop immediately. There is danger, I screamed,” the journalist shared the painful moments. “We got off immediately as the car came to stop and paramilitary force immediately rushed to defuse the car they thought was planted to target the force personnel.”
The driver stopped the car near already parked vehicle of paramilitary force and the force believed the planted bomb was aiming the paramilitary force personnel. The journalists dispelled this impression.