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Journalists assaulted while reporting on land dispute in Lomas de Andalucía

(ANP/IFEX) - A group of journalists working for the "Los Tiempos" newspaper and the Red Uno and Univalle TV stations were assaulted with sticks and stones and insulted by people who were involved in a land dispute and who were being displaced by police.The incident took place at Lomas de Andalucía, a neighbourhood in the centre of Cochabamba.

On 6 March 2011, the assailants attacked the "Los Tiempos" vehicle, assaulting the driver and forcefully removing journalist Jaqueline Rojas from the vehicle and kicking her on the ground. Other journalists from Red Uno and Univalle were attacked with stones and forced to flee.

Police arrived two hours after the attacks began and when asked about the delay said they did not take orders from journalists. Officers entered the occupied land in search of Noé Portugal, a "Los Tiempos" photographer who was hiding, fearing for his life.

One journalist told ANP that the assailants had not allowed them to do their work and that they had endangered their lives by throwing larges stones at them. "One of the illegal settlers tripped me and then told me to cover my face if I didn't want to be kicked," they said.

Alcides Flores, the "Los Tiempos" editor-in-chief, said that the main problem with attacks against journalists is that they go unpunished. "The media feels helpless and the only thing they can do is publish the news, but after this no one is going to lift a finger. The consequence of this is that the attackers have the license to keep repeating these crimes. When will it end? What has to happen? Do more people have to die? The police had received a thousand calls about what happened in Andalucía, not only from the 'Los Tiempos' journalists, but from other outlets as well. Still they took that long to get there. They did not help us."

ANP condemns the violent attack on journalists and demands that police authorities provide a secure environment for journalists so they are able to do their work without being the targets of attacks.

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