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Two journalists killed by RUF gunmen; two others wounded

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 24 May 2000 CPJ press release:


CPJ: "RUF Deliberately Targeted Local Reporters And Foreign Correspondents
For Years"

New York, May 24, 2000 --- The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by the latest murderous attack on journalists in Sierra Leone, which claimed the lives of two western journalists and left two others injured on Wednesday, according to news agencies and CPJ's sources in Freetown.

Veteran war correspondent Kurt Schork of Reuters and Associated Press cameraman-producer Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora were killed in what sources reported was an apparent ambush carried out by rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

"These journalists are victims of a group of murderous thugs, who for years have deliberately targeted local reporters and foreign correspondents covering the Sierra Leone conflict," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. Since 1997, 13 journalists have been killed by Sierra Leone's rebel forces, according to CPJ's research. Most were local journalists, hunted down in reprisal for their reporting. "It's time the RUF and its leader, Foday Sankoh, were held accountable for these deadly assaults, whose aim is to eliminate independent reporting on one of the world's worst civil conflicts," said Cooper.

Schork, 53, and Moreno, 32, were among four journalists traveling in two vehicles with soldiers from the Sierra Leone Army (SLA), when RUF forces opened fire on them east of Rogberi Junction, local journalists told CPJ. The ambush took place in an area that has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent days, between rebels and pro-government forces. Four SLA soldiers were killed in the incident. The identity of the second journalist killed was not made public, pending notification of family.

The two wounded journalists also worked for Reuters: television cameraman Mark Chisholm and photographer Yannis Behrakis. Chisholm and Behrakis received first-aid assistance at a local hospital run by United Nations peacekeepers before they were evacuated to Indian Field Hospital in Freetown, where they remain in stable condition, according to CPJ's sources.

Despite a peace agreement signed last year, fighting resumed early in May when RUF rebels abducted 500 UN peacekeepers and then launched an advance toward Freetown. Government forces have been slowly pushing the rebels away from the capital since then.

These deaths bring to nine the number of journalists killed world-wide so far this year because of their work.

For more information on journalists killed in Sierra Leone, or killed world-wide, visit the CPJ web-site at .

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.

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