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Congolese army officers attack community radio station

(JED/IFEX) - JED is calling on the Congolese government to investigate an attack by Congolese army (FARDC) officers on a community radio station in Sud-Kivu and punish those responsible, in accordance with its Zero-Tolerance policy with respect to free expression violations.

According to information obtained by JED and confirmed by local sources, on 29 July 2009 at about 8:00 p.m. (local time), an army captain and major burst into the studios of Radio Communautaire Mutanga, a community radio station based in Shabunda, a town located about 200 km west of Bukavu, the capital of Sud-Kivu province. The officers beat two journalists who were in the studios at the time before making off with the station's equipment, including a spare transmitter. The equipment was returned the next day on the orders of the local administrator.

Station director Kiziba Yafali Patrice, who spoke to JED by phone on 3 August, said he believed the attack came in retaliation for a statement broadcast by Radio Mutanga shortly before the incident. The statement, made by the person in charge of displaced persons in Shabunda, denounced "the army's continued harassment (of local residents), which only adds to the growing number of displaced persons in the region."

A local army commander who also spoke to JED defended the punitive action against Radio Mutanga, saying the station was "spreading false news about soldiers under my command."

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