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Journalists attacked with iron rod, corrosive fluid in the Maldives

(IFJ/IFEX) - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Maldives Journalists' Association (MJA), in condemning three attacks against journalists in the island nation on Friday, February 22.

In the most serious of the three, Ibrahim Waheed Aswad, news head of the Rajje TV channel, was hit on the head with an iron rod near the artificial beach area in the Maldivian capital city of Male. He suffered serious injuries to the head and face and has since been transferred for critical medical treatment to the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo.

Just prior to this incident, two women in senior editorial and reporting functions as the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Aishath Liza and Aminath Saani, were assaulted in the city and a packet full of a corrosive industrial fluid thrown at them. Both have suffered burn injuries, including to their faces.

It is believed that these attacks were all carried out with deliberate intent to threaten and harm journalists at a particularly contentious time in politics in the Maldives.

The MJA reports that prior to these attacks, these three journalists had been receiving threats through social media sites and other modes of communication.

The MJA has described these attacks as "violent attempts" to curb press freedom and prevent journalists from free and fair reporting of ongoing political events, including frequent rallies and protests organised by both the ruling party and the opposition.

These recent attacks follow an attack on cameraman Rilwan Moosa, as reported by the IFJ on February 20.

The IFJ joins the MJA in calling on the authorities in the Maldives to bring those responsible for these attacks to account without delay, and to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of journalists.

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