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Cameraman assaulted by trade unionists; newspaper editor assaulted by police

(MFWA/IFEX) - Mohamed Ould Moustapha, a cameraman with the local Mauritanian office of the Qatari television network Al Jazeera, was assaulted on 8 October 2008 by trade union activists in Nouakchott.

A Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) correspondent reported that the assault was caused by an alleged disagreement, which degenerated into offensive exchanges between the two parties, over Al Jazeera's coverage of the activities of the Mauritanian forces opposed to the 6 August coup d'état led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel. No other reasons were given for the attack.

At the time of the incident, the technician was covering a press conference organized by six trade union groups opposed to the coup.

In a separate incident, Bechir Ould Babana, the editor-in-chief of the electronic newspaper "Saharamedia", was assaulted on 15 October in Nouakchott by the anti-riot unit of the Mauritania police.

An MFWA correspondent reported that Ould Babana is also the local correspondent for MBC, a pan-Arab television company in Saudi Arabia. He was covering a protest march organised by the National Front for the Defence of Democracy (NFDD) forces that opposed the 6 August coup.

Ould Babana, who refused to disclose his identity as a journalist to the police, was beaten up on the orders of Cheibani, the chief police inspector and commander of the unit.

On 15 October, the police were also reported to have violently broken up, using tear gas and batons, a peaceful march organised by the NFDD. The protestors were dispersed after they gathered in different areas of the capital to ask for a return to constitutional rule and the release and reinstallation of deposed president Sadi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallah.

This is the second time the police have prevented the NFDD, under similar conditions, from organizing a peaceful march aimed at denouncing the coup.

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