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Journalists assaulted by police and demonstrators during clashes in Santa Ana department

(PROBIDAD/IFEX) - Three journalists have been assaulted during clashes between the police and local residents in the Santa Ana department.

On 25 October 2007, local residents in the town of Santa Gertrudis, 50 kilometres from the capital, San Salvador, blocked the highway leading into the area to protest the construction of a garbage landfill site in their community. The police sent an anti-riot squad to clear the road, which led to a confrontation with the residents. Three of the journalists covering the confrontation were assaulted.

Borman Mármol, a photojournalist with "La Prensa Gráfica", was hit by demonstrators and his equipment damaged; Canal 21 television station reporter Alex Nolasco and his camera operator, Walter Aparicio, were beaten by four policemen from the anti-riot unit (Unidad de Mantenimiento del Orden). As well, vehicles belonging to the television station Telecorporación Salvadoreña and the newspaper "El Diario de Hoy" were damaged by stones thrown during the incident.

The journalists assaulted have filed a complaint with the Prosecutor's Office (Fiscalía) against the police. The security authorities have promised to investigate the incident and punish those responsible. Four police officers were also wounded in the incident. Two of the demonstrators have been arrested.

There have been several confrontations between the police and Santa Gertrudis residents in October over the construction of the garbage landfill site. The residents argue that the area will be polluted by the garbage, which originates from Santa Ana, El Salvador's second largest city. The Comptroller's Office (Controloría) has said that the contract for the landfill site's construction, signed by the Santa Ana mayor's office with the company Presy, is illegal because it was done without a tendering process.

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