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Armed men attack foreign correspondent in Democratic Republic of Congo

Gaïus Kowene was attacked by armed assailants on 4 October 2013.
Gaïus Kowene was attacked by armed assailants on 4 October 2013.

Gaïus Vagheni Kowene/Twitter

Journalist in Danger (JED) is profoundly disturbed to learn of an attack on a foreign journalist in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gaïus Kowene – an independent journalist and a correspondent for Radio Netherlands – was attacked on 4 October 2013 around 7pm, at his home, by a group of six armed individuals.

According to testimonies received by JED, on the day of the attack, the journalist had been reporting on petroleum exploration in Virunga Park. He was subsequently attacked outside the door to his home by armed men, who were dressed in military uniforms and black vests.

Kowene was robbed of his backpack, containing materials he uses for work (including a laptop, a Zoom audio recorder, a passport, etcetera.) He was then intensely beaten by the assailants, before they disappeared into the woods.

Contacted by JED, Gaïus Kowene said that – prior to the attack – his backpack was extensively searched by the armed men. “I told them was a journalist. This statement seriously annoyed the leader of the armed men. That's when they pointed their weapons at me, and confiscated my possessions. I subsequently contacted the military and political authorities in the province, and asked them to find the armed men. The spokesperson for Military Region 8, Colonel Olivier Hamuli, said that he would follow up on my case and that he would let me know as soon as they retrieve my belongings. Yesterday (8 October 2013), I filed a complaint against the military commandos.”

JED believes that an attack aimed at a journalist, in a province prone to violence and general violence, constitutes a serious threat against the physical well-being of journalists working in this area.

JED calls on all of North Kivu's political, administrative and military authorities to immediately find and sanction the armed assailants, and ensure the physical security of journalist Gaïus Kowene.

Please note this is an abridged translation.

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