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Armed soldiers attack Guinean radio station following presidential rally

UPDATE from WAJA: "Moussa Diawara has been in Bamako since August 19th. He was forced to flee to Bamako after his radio station was attacked. A reporter on duty, Addouramane Senkou Kaba, was also beaten. Whilst in Bamako, the WAJA CBP is covering his accommodation and other related costs." (29 August 2013).

Armed soldiers believed to be part of the presidential security of President Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, stormed the premises of privately-owned radio station, Bate FM, following live coverage of a political rally organised by the ruling party, the People's Rally of Guinea (RPG).

Bate FM is located in Kankan, a town 700 kilometres north of Conakry, the capital.

The soldiers forcibly entered the studios, manhandled and threw out the journalists before closing down the radio station. Subsequently, Sorel Mady and Moro Sidibe, host and producer respectively, were arrested and grilled by the local police.

The MFWA monitor in the country reported that on August 16, 2013, the angry soldiers besieged the radio station after a campaign tour by President Condé was marred by boos from the inhabitants of Kankan.

“Though the soldiers were aware of Bate FM's live broadcast, they accused the station of deliberately airing the instance where the crowd hooted at the President,” the monitor said.

Meanwhile, two days after the soldiers stormed Bate FM, supporters of the ruling RPG based in Kankan took a cue from the soldiers' attack and also attacked the radio station, vandalizing equipment and properties.

Equipment worth thousands of dollars including microphones, console, antennae, and voice recorders were destroyed and taken away by the supporters, the monitor reported.

The director of the radio station, Moussa Diawara, has fled the country to neighbouring Mali following threats to his life while the radio station has since been off air.

The MFWA is worried at this barbaric behaviour of the soldiers and the RPG supporters. We call on the Presidency, leadership of the RPG, and the Head of Police to publicly rebuke the culprits and act swiftly to ensure the equipment is returned to the radio station.

Realising the growing impunity and attacks on the media by security officers and supporters of political parties, the MFWA opines that the media profession is guaranteed by law, therefore, no individual or group has the right to interfere or adversely affect the physical integrity of journalists.

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