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Journalists assaulted by demonstrators in Birtamod; FM station attacked, staff threatened

(FNJ/IFEX) - Yadhav Poudel, of "Morning Times" and Mechi Tunes FM, and Narayan Khadka, a correspondent with "Nepal Samacharpatra" daily were attacked by unidentified demonstrators at Birtamod in Jhapa, an eastern district, on 17 June 2007.

The two journalists were reporting on protests over irregularities in the announcement of lottery results. While they were reporting, they were rounded up by a few of the demonstrators, who beat them, saying the journalists should not be spared. During the attack, Poudel and Khadka sustained injuries to their eyes and back, respectively.

In a separate incident, "Kanchanjunga FM", also based in Birtamod, was also attacked on 17 June at around 2:00 p.m. (local time). According to Krishna Humagain, president of FNJ's Jhapa chapter, a group led by Dinesh Shah came to the radio station's office with weapons and tried to damage the property. The station's programming was interrupted for several hours during the attack. The attackers also threatened the employees present and used abusive language on women staff members. On 18 June, police arrested Shah. He is believed to have attacked the station because it had declared itself in favour of a democratic republic and Shah is a monarchist.

The FNJ has condemned the incident and urged the government to take strict action against those responsible. FNJ is very concerned about the increasing numbers of attacks and threats on journalists from various groups. FNJ believes it is the duty of journalists to report the news fairly and that journalists' safety should be ensured.

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