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Following recent attacks against journalists by Malawi's ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party, authorities are being urged to investigate the death of a journalist in a bar last week to determine whether it was linked to his professional activities.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) says on 8 August, Don Kulapani was killed during a hold-up in a bar in the capital, Lilongwe, when four armed men burst into the establishment and opened fire. Kulapani was shot and stabbed several times. The assailants stole cash, musical equipment and alcohol before fleeing, RSF notes.

Kulapani, a freelance journalist, was previously employed by the newspaper, "The Chronicle." RSF says journalists working for this publication have often been the target of physical assaults in which youth members of the UDF (Young Democrats) are implicated.

Last fall, another local newspaper, "Daily Times," published an article claiming the UDF planned to recruit Young Democrats to seek out and assault four journalists from the "Daily Times," "Nation," and the BBC, a charge the UDF has denied [See IFEX "Communiqu%26#233;" #10-44].">">"Communiqué" #10-44].

Reviewing the situation last year, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Malawian journalists faced numerous threats and physical attacks from ruling party supporters, especially from the Young Democrats. Vendors who sold copies of newspapers critical of the government were also frequently harassed and attacked. Meanwhile, the government used "every means at their disposal" to silence media outlets that reported unfavorably on the UDF or wrote about public scandals, notes CPJ.

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