United Nations: Condemning the recent death of a Pakistani journalist in the hands of the Taliban militants, a United Nations agency, in charge of defending press freedom, has asked Islamabad to take steps to improve security conditions for reporters in the country.

"I condemn the murder of Mukarram Khan Aatif," the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said.

Aatif, who was working for the Voice of America (VOI) broadcasting service, was murdered while praying in a mosque in Peshawar. The victim was also a correspondent for Dunya news channel and a former President of the Mohmand Agency Press Club.

"It is essential for democracy and rule of law that theauthorities investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice. I call on the authorities to ensure that this killing is punished as an important step in improving the safety of journalists working in Pakistan," Bokova said.

In a statement, UNESCO said that 22 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 2002.

UNESCO regularly conducts activities in the country to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of expression and press freedom and to help improve the safety of journalists and media workers.