Journalists in Pakistan protesting against targeted killings of journalists in the countr. - File Photo

QUETTA: Journalists across Pakistan staged protest rallies Tuesday to condemn the killing of a television reporter in insurgency-torn Balochistan.

Police said Abdul Haq Baloch, 37, who worked for private TV channel ARY, was shot late Saturday while driving home in the town of Khuzdar, 230 kilometres south of the provincial capital Quetta.

Journalists said masked men opened fire on his car around 100 yards from the local press club. Police officer Abdul Qadir Kamrani confirmed the killing and told AFP that Baloch died of his injuries en route to hospital.

Police have registered a case against “unidentified gunmen”.

Balochistan is one of Pakistan's most deprived areas. Separatist rebels have been fighting since 2004 for autonomy and a greater share of oil, gas and mineral deposits in the southwestern province.

Human rights groups say hundreds have been detained, killed or gone missing as government forces try to crush the uprising by ethnic Baloch groups.

Farooq Faisal, president of the national press club, said journalists were protesting against extremely difficult working conditions in Balochistan and northwest Pakistan, where a Taliban insurgency is concentrated.

“Armed groups are threatening journalists but the government is taking no step for their protection,” Faisal told AFP. Nadeem Gorgnari, president of the Khuzdar press club, told AFP that Baluch and the club had received threatening telephone calls.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik met journalists in Islamabad and said a judicial commission would investigate the killing, promising a reward of 2.5 million rupees ($26,320) for anyone who helps to identify the killers.

Earlier this year, a government commission failed to find the killers of a journalist who reported that Islamist militants had infiltrated the military shortly before he disappeared in May 2011.

According to press watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan was the deadliest country for the media in 2011 with at least eight journalists killed in connection with their work.

A driver also working for ARY television was shot dead last month when a mob protesting against a US-made film deemed insulting to Islam set alight and ransacked a cinema in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

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