Pakistan authorities must immediately investigate the attacks against journalists Haider Mastoi, Khan Muhammad Pitafi, and Chaudhry Ikhlaq, hold those responsible to account, and take steps to end the intensifying wave of violence against journalists in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On May 29, an unknown number of unidentified gunmen on three motorbikes stopped Mastoi, a reporter for Sindh News TV and Times News media outlets, and shot him four times while he was on his way home in Rohri town, located in Pakistan’s Sukkur District, according to press freedom nonprofit the Pakistan Press Foundation and the independent daily Dawn. The armed men also beat Pitafi, a cameraman accompanying Mastoi during the attack, according to the Pakistan Press Foundation.

On May 30, armed men on two motorbikes shot Ikhlaq while he was returning to his native town Bewal from Gujar Khan city in Punjab province, according to media reports. The independent daily newspaper Nation reported that Ikhlaq is a correspondent for the Daily Express and a member of the Bewal Khan Press Club.

“Pakistani authorities must swiftly investigate the attacks on journalists Haider Mastoi, Chaudhry Ikhlaq, and Khan Muhammad Pitafi, and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government must stop this alarming rise in attacks against journalists, and end this cycle of impunity that fuels a culture of violence against Pakistan media.”

Pakistan remains politically volatile after a February election—marred by campaign violence and widely described as flawed—led to the formation of a coalition government.

Although the motive behind the attacks on the journalists remains unclear, media reports indicated that Ikhlaq had received death threats from local influential individuals for his critical coverage of Pakistani nationals who have left the country. 

According to reports, Mastoi and Ikhlaq are in stable condition and are recovering in the hospital.

Sukkur police have detained an unidentified number of suspects in connection with the attack on Mastoi, according to Rauf Abbasi, a local journalist in Sukkur, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Earlier in May, four journalists were killed in separate incidents in Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. CPJ is investigating whether the journalists were killed in retaliation for their reporting.

Police in Sindh and Punjab provinces did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment about the attacks on Mastoi and Ikhlaq.