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Online newspaper office attacked

UPDATE: Journalists repeatedly attacked in police reprisals against media (RSF, 30 May 2012)

(Media Watch/IFEX) - Unidentified individuals attacked a number of journalists of the bdnews24.com online newspaper at its office in Dhaka, leaving several of them injured, three of them critically. The incident took place on the ground floor of the building around 9-9:15pm on Monday, 28 May 2012. Journalists organised a rally in front of the National Press Club on 29 May to protest against the attack. They formed a human chain to demand the immediate arrests of those responsible, giving the authorities a deadline of 4 June to take action.

On the night of 28 May, unidentified assailants stabbed bdnews24.com sub-editor Newaz Mohammad Rifaat and correspondent Salahuddin Wahed Pritom with sharp weapons. Several others, including office staff Ruhul Amin, suffered injuries in the attack apparently by a group of local goons. Rifaat and Pritom were stabbed indiscriminately in their legs while Amin received knife injuries in the upper part of his body. He was attacked in front of the building while keeping an eye on some office materials which were being kept outside to be shifted to the new office location of the first internet-based newspaper of the country and news agency.

On hearing Amin's shrieks, the journalists from the office rushed to his aid and captured the assailants and informed the police. Angered at this, some of the assailants' accomplices from nearby areas, armed with sharp-edged weapons, swooped on the journalists. The criminals forcibly opened the shutter on the ground floor and attacked the newsmen and other staff, including Sohag Mia of bdnews24.com. They also vandalised several vehicles and motorcycles belonging to the paper's journalists, which were parked outside the office.

Rifaat, Pritom and Amin were rushed to the United Hospital in the capital's Gulshan area. Doctors, however, they said the trio is "out of danger".

Police officials arrived on the scene a while after the incident. Dhaka Metro Police Gulshan zone Deputy Commissioner Lutful Kabir, who visited the scene, said, "It's still unclear as to who the attackers were. bdnews24.com News Editor Gazi Nasir Uddin Ahmed said, "We are shocked. We demand the immediate arrest and trial of the attackers."

Home Minister Shahara Khatun, Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad and State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam visited the injured at the United Hospital. Chairperson Khaleda Zia, of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), condemned the attack on the bdnews24.com journalists in a media statement soon after the incident.

Journalist unions across the country announced demonstrations and human chain protest programmes as they came to know about the incident. The protesters are also demanding justice for the recent attack on three photojournalists of the Bengali-language Prothom Alo daily and the killings and torture of journalists over the past three months.
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