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Offices of Agence France Presse attacked in Amman

(IPI/IFEX) - 16 June 2011 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the attack on the offices of news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) in Jordan's capital, Amman, on 15 June. A group of 10 unidentified attackers broke into the premises and destroyed furniture and equipment, AFP reported.

"Ten men armed with sticks broke into the office and started to destroy everything in their way, the furniture and the equipment," the agency quoted its journalist Kamal Taha, who was alone in the office when the attack took place, as saying.

Taha was able to escape through a back door, AFP added.

The attack reportedly followed a demonstration by some 300 Jordanians outside of AFP's offices on Tuesday, demanding the bureau's closure. The protest came as a result of a news report released by the agency saying that King Abdullah II's motorcade had been attacked with rocks and empty bottles during the monarch's visit to the southern governorate of Tafileh. This information was reportedly later denied by the government. Since the article was released, the bureau chief, Randa Habib, has been threatened and accused of "undermining the security of Jordan," AFP reported.

Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit is said to have contacted Habib after the attack.

"I am relieved that no journalist was injured," AFP quoted him as saying. "This is an unacceptable action," adding that he will "consult with the interior minister on the issue."

Since January, protesters have been demanding democratic reforms as well as an end to corruption in the country. In February, King Abdullah II dismissed the cabinet and appointed Marouf Bakhit as the new prime minister to carry out political reforms. IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: "It is outrageous to hear that there continue to be attacks on the media in a country that claims to have taken a turn for democracy. We are glad that no one was injured, but we urge the authorities to thoroughly look into the incident and take measures to prevent similar attacks in the future."

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