The U.S-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has strongly condemned this week's threat by the Taliban against TOLO TV and 1TV and urged government to ensure all journalists and media organizations in Afghanistan are protected.
Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator said: ""We condemn these threats against Tolo TV and 1TV and call on Afghan authorities to do their utmost to ensure the safety of all journalists and news outlets."
"Afghanistan is entering a difficult period, with a growing level of violent conflict. Now, more than ever, the country needs its media to play a mature role in reporting all sides of the conflict," said Dietz.
"Resorting to threats against reporters and the media outlets they represent has no place in such a conflict. It only serves to make the work that reporters have to carry out more dangerous," he added.
"Threats against the media from any side, at any time, for whatever reason must be rejected in the strongest terms possible."
CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action wherever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed.
On Monday, the Taliban issued a statement and a video categorizing TOLO TV and 1TV as "military targets" and said all facilities, offices and staff are now considered military objects "which will be directly eliminated".
This comes after the insurgent group, that was ousted from power in 2001, accused the TV channels of broadcasting false news on the siege of Kunduz.
TOLO TV and 1TV are both privately owned Afghan channels – with TOLO TV and TOLOnews being the most watched channels in the country.
Close on the heels of the CPJ's reaction was that by the international Human Rights Watch which also strongly condemned the Taliban's threats and statement that employees of the two channels were now "enemy personnel" who would be "considered military objectives" to be "directly eliminated."
Human Rights Watch said: "It's an alarming new low, even for the Taliban, who have long threatened and killed journalists and other civilians," adding that under international law, treating journalists and other civilians as military targets and deliberately attacking them constitutes a war crime. The organization said that despite the achievements gained by the media in Afghanistan over the past 14 years, "that achievement is increasingly under threat". "The Taliban's claim of having the 'utmost respect for independent and impartial news outlets' rings hollow when they threaten to target journalists for their work. They should publicly rescind their threat against the TV stations' employees and acknowledge that negative coverage is no justification for targeting civilians," said Human Rights Watch. The European Union mission in Afghanistan has also condemned the threats. In a short statement on their twitter account they said: "The EU strongly rejects the recent statement of Taliban designating two Afghan media outlets as military targets. The EU condemns any attack against media and journalists as a breach of the international law. Any threat against a journalist or a media outlet is a threat against freedom of expression in Afghanistan."