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Gunmen target prominent Pakistani news anchor Hamid Mir

By Pierre Meilhan and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 7:54 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Pakistani journalist and television anchor Hamid Mir in November 2012.
Pakistani journalist and television anchor Hamid Mir in November 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The United States says the attack "should be a wake-up call" in Pakistan
  • Men in a car, on motorcycles fired at Hamid Mir, reports his network, Geo News
  • He was hit three times, then had a successful operation, the CNN affiliate says
  • Mir felt Pakistan's spy agency may try to assassinate him, his brother tells Geo News

(CNN) -- Gunmen wounded a prominent Pakistani TV news anchor on Saturday in an attack his brother linked to the nation's government, despite its firm denial.

Hamid Mir was shot three times by gunmen in a car and on two motorcycles near Karachi's airport, his network Geo News -- a CNN affiliate -- reported.

Shahid Hayat, the police chief for Karachi, said bullets struck Mir's intestines, leg and pelvic area. Dr. Aamir Hussain told Geo News that Mir then underwent a successful operation at a private hospital.

Amir Mir -- the targeted news anchor's brother and a journalist himself -- said Hamid Mir believed ISI, Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, and specifically its leader Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, had plans to assassinate him.

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Yet the Pakistani military public relations agency ISPR said that "raising allegations against ISI or the head of ISI without any basis is highly regrettable and misleading."

In the same statement, a spokesman for that agency condemned the attack and "prayed for (Mir's) well-being and quick recovery."

The United States condemned the shooting, calling it the latest in a series of worrisome attacks on journalists in Pakistan.

"...Attacks like these should be a wake-up call to all who value democracy in Pakistan," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"We wish Hamid Mir a speedy recovery and urge the Government of Pakistan to bring all those responsible for these attacks on the media to justice."

A former newspaper reporter and editor, Hamid Mir writes columns and hosts a political talk show on Geo News. His guests have included members of Pakistan's ruling government and the opposition. Mir is also writing a book on Osama bin Laden, the late al Qaeda leader whose escape from the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan he extensively reported on.

Two Pakistani governments -- once in 2007 and again in 2008 -- banned him from appearing on Pakistani television.

Pointing to a late March attack against a Pakistani journalist, an official with the Committee to Protect Journalists called the targeting of Mir "an indicator that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not been able to reverse the country's appalling record of violence against journalists, despite pledges to do so."

"Police must act swiftly and decisively in this and all cases that have been building up for years in Pakistan," said Bob Dietz, the journalism advocacy group's Asia program coordinator. "And the country's media must use their capabilities to pursue their own investigations, as well as pressure the government to take action."

READ: 2 UNICEF staffers missing in Pakistan

READ: Attack targets polio workers in Pakistan, kills 11

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