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Opposition protestors killed; media barred from reporting

Security forces fired on anti-government protesters in the city of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, killing five and injuring several others on 19 February, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). French TV news station France 24 was suspended after its coverage of the incident and opposition newspapers have been threatened.

Several demonstrations have taken place, leading to violence. According to RSF, the political situation has been tense since President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government and the Independent Electoral Council on 12 February, postponing elections.

Local journalists said the suppression of France 24 was a reaction to its exclusive coverage of opposition movements across the country. The government-controlled national broadcaster did not report on the demonstrations. In January, thousands of opposition supporters hit the streets in the economic capital, Abidjan, protesting Gbagbo's monopoly of publicly funded state media.

Early last month, the private daily "Le Patriote" was shut down for three days because of articles critical of the government. The newspaper's editor has recently received threatening phone calls and, in 2004, its premises were set on fire during political turmoil

The managing editor of the daily "Le Nouveau Reveil" has also received threatening phone calls and has taken security measures. The newspaper's offices were ransacked in 2004 and again in 2009.

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