PESHAWAR: Senior journalist Zaman Mehsud, who was a former president Laddah Press Club, South Waziristan Agency, was gunned down when Taliban gunmen opened fire on him in Tank district yesterday.

Hailing from Manotai village in South Waziristan Agency, Zaman Mehsud, 40, was working with a Karachi-based Urdu daily Ummat. Besides, he was also a coordinator for Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Zaman Mehsud was going to Tank from his home at Narsis Gomal when he was targeted by the attackers in Dibra area near Afghan refugees’ camp. Zaman was riding his bike when the gunmen opened fire on him as a result of which he was critically injured and taken to District Headquarters Hospital Dera Ismail Khan where he succumbed to his wounds. He is survived by a widow, two daughters and three sons.

Police registered a case against unknown attackers on the report of Zaman Mehsud’s brother, Aslam Khan. According to the postmortem report, Zaman Mehsud received 10 bullets. Taliban commander Qari Saifullah Saif told Reuters: “We killed him because he was writing against us. We have some other journalists on our hit list in the region. We will target them soon.”

The journalist’s brother Muhammed Aslam wept as he collected the body. “He left five children and a widow,” he said. “Zaman Mehsud was riding his motorcycle when gunmen awaiting along the road opened fire,” Rasool Shah, a senior police official in Tank, told AFP.

Meanwhile, tribal and KP journalists’ associations strongly condemned the killing, calling upon the government to arrest the killers and announce compensation for the deceased’s family immediately.

Zaman Mehsud’s killing comes a day after media workers in Pakistan and the rest of the world observed International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2. Pakistan is considered amongst the most dangerous countries of the world for journalists and ranks as fifth worst in terms of number of unresolved cases of violence against media persons.

More than 70 journalists and media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties in Pakistan. At least 47 of them were targeted for practicing their profession.