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Opposition journalist suffers machete attack

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 23 June 2011 - Baby Balukuna, a journalist and programme host at the privately-owned Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), was attacked with sticks and machettes by an unidentified group of men at the station on 19 June 2011.

According to information from JED sources, the attack occurred at around 10:00 p.m. local time. Balukuna had just signed off from his programme, "Support Etienne Tshisekedi", a daily segment in support of Tshisekedi's campaign for office in the upcoming elections in November.

Tshisekedi is a candidate with the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UPDS), an opposition group.

According to witnesses, the journalist received an anonymous phone call inviting him to meet with the caller in his studio to take part in an upcoming broadcast. Not suspecting anything, Balukuna left his office and was immediately set upon by about 10 people armed with machettes and knives, who beat him viciously.

"I was hit twice in the back with a machette. The police came about an hour later. At first, there were just threats; now they are actually attacking me," the journalist said. Balukuna says he now fears for his life and has asked the authorities to return his confiscated passport so that he can seek medical attention in Europe, where he lives occasionally.

JED is stunned by the authorities' silence almost one week after the attack and urges the government to break its silence and open an immediate investigation into the incident, which is sadly emblematic of the climate of political intolerance that has taken hold in the country in the run up to presidential elections.

Criticism over Balukuna's journalistic practices notwithstanding, JED believes that no one has the right to take the law into their own hands.

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