Kabul: Afghanistan on Monday announced a ban on news coverage showing Taliban attacks, saying such images embolden the Islamist militants, who have launched strikes around the country as NATO forces seize their southern strongholds.
The announcement came on a day when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fighting the Taliban reported six of its service members had been killed in various attacks.
Journalists will be allowed to film only the aftermath of attacks, when given permission by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency, the agency said. Journalists who film while attacks are under way will be held and their gear seized.
"Live coverage does not benefit the government, but benefits the enemies of Afghanistan," NDS spokesman Saeed Ansari said. The agency summoned a group of reporters to announce the ban.
The move was denounced by Afghan journalism and rights groups, which said it would deprive the public of vital information about the security situation during attacks.
"Such a decision prevents the public from receiving accurate information on any occurrence," said Abdul Hameed Mubarez head of the Afghan National Media Union, a group set up to protect Afghan journalists, who often complain of harassment by authorities.
"The government should not hide their inabilities by barring media from covering incidents," said Laila Noori, who monitors media issues for Afghanistan Rights Monitor, the country`s main liberties watchdog. "People want to know all the facts on the ground whenever security incidents take place."
The Afghan government banned reporting violence for a single day during a presidential election last year, but otherwise had not had formal restrictions on filming security incidents. However, journalists have occasionally been beaten by security forces while filming at the scene of incidents in the past.