Asad Ali Toor was beaten after three armed men broke into his apartment and questioned him on his sources of ‘funding’.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Three unidentified men have assaulted a prominent Pakistani journalist after breaking into his apartment, according to the journalist, his lawyer and police, in what appears to be the latest incident of violence targeting press freedom in the South Asian country.
Journalist Asad Ali Toor said in a statement to police that the attack took place at approximately 11pm (18:00 GMT) on Tuesday when he heard the doorbell of his apartment in the Pakistani capital Islamabad ring.
“[The person at the door] pointed a pistol towards him and said that you should step back,” said Haider Imtiaz, Toor’s lawyer and a member of the Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee.
“He tried to run away but [the attacker] shouted that if you don’t step back I will shoot you.”
Toor was dragged to his bedroom where he was bound, gagged and beaten by the attacker and two others who had come in with him, according to Toor’s statement.
“They threw me on the floor hard and told me not to make a sound or they would shoot me,” the statement says.
“[One of the attackers] started hitting me repeatedly on the elbows with his pistol butt. […] I tried to scream but no sound came out.”
Toor says the attackers identified themselves as belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, which has been accused by rights groups of involvement in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the past.
Pakistan’s military’s press wing offered no comment on the allegation.
Toor said he was questioned on the sources of his income and “funding”, and was forced to shout out slogans praising Pakistan, its military, and the ISI, as well as denouncing Pakistan’s eastern neighbour India, northwestern neighbour Afghanistan and Israel.
Police spokesperson Zia Bajwa confirmed the attack and said an investigation was ongoing. Video footage of Toor taken by journalists at the government hospital where he was treated showed him limping and with blood visible on the sleeves of his shirt.