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Journalist, activist killed in clashes, private television stations raided

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA 10 Oct. 2011 - The International Press Institute (IPI) is concerned at the death of journalist Wael Yunna and reports of attacks on private television stations during deadly clashes on Sunday between protestors speaking out against perceived religious discrimination, and the military who were also supported by a group of protestors.

Wael Yunna, a reporter for a Coptic television station, was killed during the clashes, Ahram Online reported. Blogger and activist Mina Daniel also lost his life during the skirmish.

Meanwhile, the live television feed of some private stations was cut, according to , and the offices of the American-funded Al Hurra TV and 25TV, a local station founded after former President Hosni Mubarak left office, were stormed by military police, Ahram Online said.

"We send our condolences to the colleagues and family of Wael Yunna, and call for a thorough investigation into his death as well as the attacks against those who were sending information about events to the media," said IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. "The raid on private television stations by military police is unacceptable. Press freedom is not something you can put on hold when the military says it is an emergency. There has been a state of emergency in Egypt since 1967. The authorities should conduct a full investigation into who gave these orders, and why."

On Sunday, thousands of Coptic protestors and others who support their cause marched in Cairo to protest against the recent burning of a church and the weak response by the caretaker government, reports said. The demonstration turned violent when the demonstrators were attacked with rocks, and became deadly after soldiers in armoured cars drove through the marchers, firing into the crowd, according to reports on Ahram Online and Al Masry Al Youm's English-language website. Protestors threw Molotov cocktails and set police cars on fire in response, resulting in a chaotic street fight in which over 20 people were killed.

Al Jazeera's Egypt Live programming, which now runs from Qatar, was not cut despite some reports to the contrary. However, Al Jazeera Live Managing Director Ayman Gaballah said that some protestors who had sent video clips to the station were attacked and had their equipment broken.

Al Jazeera Egypt Live's offices were shut down in early September, forcing the studio to move. In late September, the station's new offices were again raided, equipment was confiscated, staff were roughed up and one journalist was detained for several hours. Authorities cited a lack of permits as the reason for the raid. But Gaballah told IPI on 13 September, after the first raid, that the station had applied for permits months earlier and had been told to "go ahead" while it waited for the paperwork to be completed.
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