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CPJ asks Pakistan to probe killing of journalist

ISLAMABAD — The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists asked Pakistan to investigate the fatal shooting of a local journalist in the country's southwest.

In a statement, the media watchdog Saturday demanded action against those responsible for the killing of 37-year-old Muhammad Jan, who was returning home late Thursday night when targeted by unidentified assailants. The journalist had worked for the Urdu-language daily Qudrat and was teaching at a school.

No group claimed responsibility for the killing, but Pakistan is considered one of the deadliest countries for journalists. According to the watchdog, 59 journalists have been killed in Pakistan from 1992 to 2016.

Also Saturday, Pakistan's main rights group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, or HRCP, voiced concern over a growing sense of insecurity among civil society activists following the disappearance of several bloggers over the past two weeks.

"The authorities are surely aware of a climate of increased insecurity and fear among bloggers and activists after at least four bloggers were picked up in the last few days," said HRCP chairwoman Zohra Yusuf.

University professor Salman Haider, known for criticizing the Taliban and the government over its alleged inaction against militants, and Shiite activist Samar Abbas, who heads the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan, were among the bloggers who went missing last week.

In a statement, the HRCP called for their immediate recovery.

"It is in everyone's interest that the missing bloggers are recovered without delay."

Meanwhile, a counter campaign started on social media condemning the missing bloggers for posting blasphemous material on their pages.

One Facebook user, Malik Umer Shahzad, posted a picture of Salman Haider asking: "How come no blasphemer has been executed in Pakistan despite the existence of the blasphemy law? Let's all run a campaign to convict him under this law."

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