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Journalist and camera operators injured while covering demonstrations

(IPYS/IFEX) - On the evening of 2 March 2004, camera operator Frank Molina, of Televen television station, was assaulted and his camera was seized. On 27 February, camera operator Carlos Montenegro, also of Televen, was shot in the leg and journalist Berenice Gómez, of "Últimas Noticias" newspaper, was robbed, assaulted and threatened. All three incidents took place in Caracas.

Journalist Paula Andrea Jiménez, a member of the same Televen news crew as Molina, said the team was covering opposition demonstrations in the eastern part of Caracas on 2 March. At about 8:30 p.m. (local time), a group of approximately 20 heavily armed and masked individuals arrived in the El Marques area and began shooting at the street and buildings.

Jiménez told IPYS that Molina decided to film the incident. Within minutes the group ambushed the news crew, pointing their weapons at Jiménez, the crew's driver and Molina. After threatening and assaulting Molina, the assailants seized his camera along with most of the footage the crew had obtained that day.

The attackers, who were wearing bullet-proof vests, continued to threaten the news crew and forced them to leave the area.

On 27 February, Montenegro, another Televen camera operator, was shot in the left leg while covering an opposition demonstration in Caracas's Bello Monte area. Montenegro's leg was fractured.

Also on 27 February, Gómez, of the Caracas-based "Últimas Noticias" newspaper, was intercepted by a group of people presumed to be supporters of President Hugo Chávez in Caracas's Andrés Bello avenue. At the time, the journalist was on a motorbike along with one of the newspaper's drivers. The driver was assaulted and robbed of his belongings and the motorbike, as well as a two-way radio belonging to the newspaper. Gómez was also assaulted and her taperecorder was taken. The attackers fired shots into the air, issued a death threat to the journalist and warned her that they could burn the newspaper's offices.

As the situation in Venezuela deteriorates, a number of journalists and media workers have been attacked or injured.

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