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Terrible price

Jon Williams Jon Williams | 10:50 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

This weekend, colleagues on two continents paid a terrible price for telling stories they wanted the world to know about.

Nasteh Dahir FaraahIn Somalia on Saturday, Nasteh Dahir Faraah was shot dead in the southern port city of Kismayu. Dahir was 28 and a freelance journalist working for the Associated Press and the BBC Somali service.

Yesterday, we got the shocking news that Abdul Samad Rohani had been murdered in Helmand province in Afghanistan. For the past couple of years Rohani had been our fixer in Helmand, working with Kabul correspondent Alastair Leithead and reporting for the BBC Pashto service. His bravery had allowed us to tell a key story for audiences in the UK, in Afghanistan and around the world.

Abdul Samad RohaniRohani was just 25 years old; he was married with two children. He was found with his hands tied behind his back - he'd been shot in the head. Early this morning he was buried at the family cemetery in his home district of Marja, near the provincial capital Lashkar Gar.

Of course, yesterday, there was further grim news from Afghanistan. Three soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment were killed in a suicide attack in Helmand, bringing to 100 the number of British servicemen and women killed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Each death is a tragedy - today we're experiencing some of the pain 100 families have been through in the last six and a half years in Afghanistan.

Around the world, every day, journalists risk their lives to help us understand the world and what's going on a little better. Last year, the International News Safety Institute reported that two journalists had been killed every week over the past ten years - a thousand media workers lost their lives between 1996 and 2006. But even by that grim standard, two in a weekend is hard to bear.

It's a terrible reminder of the dangers we face. But it's vital that stories like those in Afghanistan and Somalia are told to a wider audience. It's thanks to the courage and sacrifice of people like Rohani and Nasteh that we're able to do so.


  • Comment number 1.

    It is vital that those stories are told - and they are indeed the stories that we want to hear. So why are we seeing stories like this one on the BBC News website?

    We're fighting wars in two countries (and have been for almost longer than WWII). The 100th British soldier has just been killed in Afghanistan. I'd like to see the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, using its resources to tell us exactly what is going on out there. Not providing a blow-by-blow account of routine developments in a TV game show.

    Big Brother may be popular, but does that really make its minutiae, such as weekly eviction nominations or contestant tasks, newsworthy? Those who are interested in such things can visit the BB website to keep up. For the rest of us, those are neither a significant developments, nor something that affects a large number of people, nor something quirky or unusual.

    In other words, they have no news value - unlike the stories described here. Would you run a story saying how many vowels a contestant has just chosen in an episode of Countdown? I sincerely hope not...

  • Comment number 2.

    I would just add that the journalists involved "paid the ultimate price", because thats what they did. Didn't they?

  • Comment number 3.

    Journalists seeking the truth and reporting without fear should be given the highest honours. These journalists who lost their lives sacrificed so much in order to tell the world what is really taking place in these dangerous places. They are a special breed determined to educate and inform irrespective of the danger they subjected themselves to. They are driven by the courage of their conviction.

  • Comment number 4.

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  • Comment number 5.

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  • Comment number 6.

    I can't say how terribly sad this makes me feel. It is devastating. Yet, as a journalist, I have nothing but reverence for these two men who died in the pursuit of the dissemination of truth. It makes me sick to think that this pursuit comes at such a high price but it is so important. My heart goes out to their friends and families.

  • Comment number 7.

    Respect to all journalists who subject themselves to danger in their quest to shed light on world events.

  • Comment number 8.

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  • Comment number 9.

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  • Comment number 10.

    Death is terrible. I feel bad and express my sympathy to families of these guys. I have bitter words for BBC. I don’t feel like freelancer reporters in high risk conflict zones is right thing to do. Sure, BBC and other agencies get their "Breaking news" with "real facts" but. . . Most reporters "behind enemy" taking huge risk because they are driven by passion to their cause. It makes me respect them a lot but I cannot see their reports as unbiased. Little or no sources exist to verify these reports and one person view becomes "official" BBC version. I prefer routine reports for 5 different guys safely imbedded with military units. Less "breaking news" but more accountability.

  • Comment number 11.

    A terrible tragedy. So sad for their loved ones and another depressing loss for BBC colleagues.

  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.

    All respect to these brave guys and condolences to their families.

    Despite western media acting as a conduit for the 'militants' message, they are still killing you. Despite the western media acting as the most (only?) effective weapon the 'insurgents' have, they are still killing you.

    There is no gratitude from some people.

    I know you would say that reporters are not there to take sides. But do you never wonder if these people are just a bit too naughty to be neutral about?

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh! may the souls of those journalists rest in peace. My father was brutally murdered by Charles Taylor's Militias in Liberia like those journalists. Three Bible-holding Catholic Nuns were murdered in cold blood by Charles Taylor's forces like those good journalists. And Six Senegalese Peacekeepers were butchered by Charles Taylor's forces just like those good journalists. It couldn't bring home those excruciating sorrows anymore.

    Now is the time for the UN and the entire international community to put their mighty acts together to apprehend and prosecute those monsters who heartlessly continues to shatter these innocent souls.

  • Comment number 15.

    My deepest condolences. It's awful when people lose their lives in the pursuit of the truth.

    My prayers go to their families

  • Comment number 16.

    It is very sad to hear of the two BBC Journalists that lost their lives, but as long as there is a need for breaking news they will not be the last in this dangerous world we live in today.

    I can really empathise with the families of those two Journalists as my father too was a BBC Journalist who lost his life almost 30yrs ago now

    So my Prayers and thoughts are with those families now.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sad, sad events. No man should precede his children into the void. What are these men and women dying for? Is it to free Afghanistan from the Taliban? Is it to further America's pathetic and lost war on drugs? Is it to line the pockets of some special interest group? Who benefits from these deaths?
    Afghanistan has been a quagmire for outsiders for centuries. Why should it change now? If the death is a precursor to freedom surely there have been enough by now?

  • Comment number 18.

    00.01AM on 10 June 2008, KennethM: Wrote an excellent point and i want to further it....i want to send my symapthies and condolences to the 2 families....

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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