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Journalist killed in stampede following attack on village

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 6 November 2008 IFJ press release:

The IFJ Condemns the Killing and Kidnapping of Journalists in Democratic Republic of Congo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned that journalists in Democratic Republic of Congo are facing extreme danger after Congolese journalist Alfred Nzonzo Bitwahiki Munyamariza was killed in the town of Rutshuru and Belgian journalist Thomas Scheen was kidnapped nearby.

"Our colleagues covering the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo are incredibly vulnerable to violence and abduction," said Gabriel Baglo, director of the IFJ Africa office. "We condemn the killing of our colleague Alfred and call on all the parties in conflict to respect the rights of journalists and to ensure that they are not targeted when they are reporting on the conflict. The IFJ is also urging Scheen's kidnappers to release him immediately."

Munyamariza, a 27-year-old journalist and presenter on community radio station Radio Communautaire Ushikira (Racou), was killed on Tuesday by a single bullet in Rutshuru, during a stampede that followed the attack on the village of Kiwanja, according to reports. The journalist's killer is unknown and the victim's colleagues are still in hiding.

The Belgian foreign ministry said today that Scheen, a Belgian reporter working for the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", was kidnapped near Rutshuru on Tuesday by Mai Mai rebels, a pro-government militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to reports, the Belgian ministry says it has started negotiations to secure Mr. Scheen's release.

"The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed many civilian victims," said Baglo. "Now the journalists who are attempting to report on this war are tragically finding themselves under attack."

Updates the Munyamariza (Nzonzo) and Scheen cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98289

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