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FILE: Reporters at work in the Tolo TV station in Kabul.

(Reuters) - The United States and Afghanistan have denounced a Taliban warning that Afghan media will be targeted unless they stop broadcasting what the group called "anti-Taliban statements".

Radio stations, TV channels and other media organizations had one week to stop transmitting "anti-Taliban advertisements", the group's military commission said in a statement on June 24.

"Those who continue doing so will be recognized by the group as military targets who are helping the Western-backed government of Afghanistan," it said, adding "reporters and staff members will not remain safe".

President Ashraf Ghani's office condemned the threats by the insurgent group, which has previously targeted reporters and employees of media organizations.

"Freedom of expression and attacks on media organizations is in contradiction to human and Islamic values," Ghani's office said in a statement on June 25.

The warning comes as Taliban leaders prepare for a seventh round of peace talks with U.S. officials aimed at finding a political settlement to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The next round of talks is scheduled to begin on June 29 in Doha.

John Bass, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said the Taliban should stop threatening Afghan journalists.

"More violence, against journalists or civilians, will not bring security and opportunity to Afghanistan, nor will it help the Taliban reach their political objectives," Bass said on Twitter.

Afghanistan was the deadliest country in the world to be a journalist in 2018, with 13 deaths according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The International Federation of Journalists said 16 journalists were killed last year.

With the international media presence in Afghanistan sharply reduced since the withdrawal of international troops in 2014, domestic media outlets have filled the gap but their work has become increasingly difficult.

In 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, the country's largest private broadcaster, killing seven journalists.

The Taliban said it killed the employees because Tolo was producing propaganda that supported the occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies in their war against the insurgents.

A plainclothes police officer indicates the bloody spot where popular Pakistani blogger and social-media activist Muhammad Bilal Khan was killed in Islamabad on June 16.

ISLAMABAD -- Police in Islamabad say a popular Pakistani blogger and social-media activist has been killed by an attacker with a knife.

Islamabad Police Superintendent Saddar Malik Naeem said 22-year-old Muhammad Bilal Khan was killed on the evening of June 16 in central Islamabad's G-9 area.

Khan had more than 16,000 followers on Twitter, 48,000 on his YouTube channel, and more than 22,000 followers on Facebook.

He often wrote about Islam, advocating the coexistence of rival sects within Sunni and Shi'ite Islam.

Khan also recently organized a Twitter campaign that brought attention to cases of forced disappearances of Pakistanis who allegedly were abducted by military and intelligence authorities.

In one of his last Twitter posts, Khan on June 16 sarcastically criticized the newly appointed director-general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, hard-line General Faiz Hameed.

Islamabad's police superintendent said Khan received a phone call on June 16 while he was at the home of his uncle in Islamabad's northeastern Bara Kahu neighborhood.

He said the caller instructed him to go to the G-9 neighborhood in central Islamabad, where he was met by a man who took him into a wooded area nearby and attacked him.

Naeem said that while the attacker used a knife to kill Khan, gunshots also were fired.

The blogger's father, Abullah Khan, said he had cuts and marks from a sharp tool on several parts of his body.

An uncle of Khan who accompanied him after he'd received the phone call on June 16 was injured by the attackers, Naeem said.

With reporting by Dawn, Pakistan Today, and NayaDaur Media

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