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Militants angered by coverage attack press vehicle, burn newspapers, injure worker

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - CEHURDES condemns an act of vandalism directed at a vehicle transporting newspapers for distribution in southern Nepal.

On 7 March 2008, a jeep belonging to Kantipur Publications was stopped by a group of seven people while passing through Babhanagamakatti village, in Saptari district.

The assailants are believed to be cadres of the separatist political group Akhil Terai Mukti Morcha (ATMM). They assaulted driver Chandra Katuwal and distribution staff member Gangaram Bhandari, fracturing his arm.

They also vandalised the jeep, spraying it with petrol and torching it. The jeep was destroyed, as were 30,000 copies of newspapers, including "Kantipur daily", "The Kathmandu Post" and "Saptahik" weekly.

An individual referring to himself as "Bikas" and claiming to be the commander of the ATMM's Saptari district unit later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was prompted by the fact that the newspapers did not prioritise news about the political group.

The ATMM has launched a violent campaign in southern Nepal demanding a separate state.

CEHURDES condemns the destruction of the press vehicle and the newspapers. It considers the incident to be a blatant attack on freedom of the press and freedom of expression. CEHURDES urges the authorities to ensure that there is security in the region and appeals to all parties to respect press freedom at all times.

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