Pakistan Taliban admit killing reporter MK Atif

Mukarram Khan Atif Mr Atif complained of receiving threats before he was murdered

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The Taliban in Pakistan have said they killed a journalist while he was praying in a mosque near the city of Peshawar on Tuesday.

Mukarram Khan Atif - who worked for the Voice of America broadcasting service - was shot in the head by attackers on a motorcycle who fled from the scene.

His death has been condemned by his employers and by campaigning groups.

The Reporters Without Borders campaign group say Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2011.

Last year, 10 journalists were killed there as a result of their work, the group says.

Warnings

Mr Atif - who was based in the Mohmand tribal region - was reported to be among several reporters in the area who had been receiving threats because of his work.

A bystander who was with him at the time of the attack was seriously injured.

Analysis

Journalists are increasingly facing death threats in reporting the conflict in Pakistan's war-torn tribal areas. For years, Mukarram Khan performed that frontline role, covering the lawless north-west for radio and TV.

Colleagues said he had received threats from the militants, who accused him of projecting American views. Others are frequently intimidated and receive death threats from armed groups, as well as the security services.

A colleague of Mr Khan has been told he's on the Taliban's hit list and could be next, if he doesn't change his ways. In recent years, many journalists from the tribal areas have been forced to move their families to urban areas like Peshawar.

But even there, says a journalist who was abducted and tortured by a Pakistani security service, there are no guarantees - a bullet can come from anywhere, anytime.

Mr Atif was buried on Wednesday in his home town of Shabqadar.

A spokesman for the militants told the BBC that he was shot dead for not conveying the Taliban's point of view.

The spokesman said that he had been warned many times before for not telling their side of the story.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says that the Taliban had warned of dire consequences in recent propaganda statements and videos.

The militants said that they would attack facilities and employees of media organisations if they did not refrain from what they called "malicious propaganda".

Our correspondent says that it is the first time that the militants have accepted responsibility for such a killing.

Mr Atif, 40, complained that he had received threats from militants in Mohmand several months ago and had moved away from there to the nearby town of Charsadda.

In a statement, Voice of America (VOA) said that he had been working for its Deewa Radio service since 2006.

"Mr Atif risked his life on a daily basis to provide his audience with fair and balanced news from this critical region and we mourn the loss of our colleague," VOA Director David Ensor said.

It said that the murdered reporter also worked for local TV stations in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area, a region where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are active.

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