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Young Afghan Journalist Is Slain

Afghan journalists protest for their rights in front of the parliament.
Friends and family of a young Afghan journalist recently murdered in southern Afghanistan remember him as a compassionate young man dedicated to his work.

The mutilated body of Noor Ahmed Noori, 29, was found on the outskirts of Lashkargah, the capital of the restive southern province of Helmand on January 23.

Rafiullah Qalam, Noori’s elder brother, says there were no compelling reasons for brutally torturing him to death.

"He was no one’s enemy and had no personal conflict with anyone," he told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan. "He was a true Muslim who never missed a prayer."

He said that the family is waiting for the day when Noori's assassins will be arrested and tried.

Writing on Qalam's Facebook page, Noori's friend Hamid condemned the assassination, calling the young reporter's murderers "merciless animals."

Noori's family and friends and several Afghan journalists turned to social media to pay their tributes and share their memories.

Afghan journalist Mujib Mashal (@MujMash) tweeted a heartbreaking picture of Noori's corpse waiting for burial:

Peymana Assad @Peymasad, a London-based Afghan blogger, tweeted, "Let's hope we get some justice for such a big loss to Afghanistan."

A journalist colleague Ahmad Shah described Noori as a soft-spoken friend who was immensely patient, and who was determined to have a better life in Helmand.

He said that while working for Bost, a local radio station, Noori also worked briefly as an interpreter for The New York Times.

"He studied law and political science at a local university and simultaneously ran a private center to teach English," he said. "Everyone is shocked, who would kill an innocent man like him?”

Reacting to the news, Radio Bost manager Abdul Salam Zahid told Reporters without Borders, "His programs caused no problem. His voice was known to everyone throughout the province."

Zahid said that Noori hosted special programs during religious festivals.

Helmand remains one of the country's most dangerous provinces, where journalists are exposed to threats from Taliban insurgents, the drug mafia and criminal cartels, some of which have roots in the Afghan government.

In 2008, the body of Abdul Samad Rohani, a BBC reporter in Helmand, was found wrapped in a sack and dumped on a road.

A year before, Ajmal Naqshbandi was beheaded in Helmand. He had been working with "La Repubblica" reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and Sayed Agha, their driver.

According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 21 Afghan and foreign journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since a U.S. -led military military operation overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

Farishta Jalalzai