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Taliban arrests five journalists days after rising to power: Report

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Kabul: As many as five journalists working with a daily newspaper in Kabul, have been arrested by the Taliban amid fears of media repression ever since the Islamic militant group took over the war-torn country in mid-August after the fall of the Western-backed elected government, led by Ashraf Ghani. The information was, reportedly, shared by Zaki Daryabi, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, on Wednesday.

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The Taliban leadership has asked Afghan media to operate as usual, besides their apparent softening stance on women. It has said media will be allowed to criticise anyone, but they should not indulge in character assassination, the spokesperson said.

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One official even sat down for an interview with a woman host on Tolo News, keen to convince people that the Taliban will be softer this time around. But many Afghans, including in the media, are not convinced.

The group had killed and threatened journalists throughout its 20-year insurgency. During their 1996-2001 regime, TV and most entertainment were banned, and there was no media to speak of.

The woman who had interviewed the Taliban official later told The Associated Press that she was nervous when she saw him enter the studio, but his behavior and how he answered questions helped put her at ease a bit.

She, however, fled the country after the interview, unwilling to take any chances about the Taliban’s promises of greater openness and living temporarily in a compound in Qatar for Afghan refugees.

The Taliban victory has plunged Afghanistan’s independent media into crisis.

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About 100 privately owned outlets have suspended operations, according to watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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