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Two journalists threatened by local officials, another two severely beaten by police officers over coverage

(FNJ/IFEX) - FNJ denounces three recent serious attacks against journalists in different areas of the country.

In the first incident, on 28 July 2008 Govinda Luitel, a news correspondent for "Butwal Today" daily newspaper and the radio station Nepal FM, was threatened with death by Birendra Nepal, secretary of the Devinagar Village Development Committee (VDC). The incident took place in Palpa, a western district of Nepal.

According to FNJ's Palpa chapter president Bhagwan Bhandari, Luitel was threatened over a 28 July news article entitled "VDC secretaries enjoying in Headquarter". In a letter to FNJ, Luitel explained that Nepal threatened him via a call made to his mobile phone. Nepal said that if Luitel wrote such an article again he would be killed. Due to the threat, Luitel is afraid to return to news reporting.

In a second incident, K. B. Rana, a local correspondent for Radio Nepal, and Deepak Bhattarai, of ABC Television, were attacked by police officers on the night of 29 July at Dumkibas, in Nawalparasi district, located in the western region of Nepal.

According to Krishna Bahadur Karki, president of FNJ's Nawalparasi chapter, the two journalists had collected information about a recent clash between local townspeople and the police. The locals had confronted the police over the death of three people who were killed when a police vehicle struck their motorcycle. The journalists were attacked after returning to their hotel from investigating the story. Police used their gun butts, sticks and their boots to beat the two journalists. Rana received severe head injuries and is in critical condition. Both journalists are being treated for their injuries at the Bharatpur Medical Collage in Chitwan.

In a third incident, Kamal Bahadur Panthi, a correspondent for the national daily newspaper "Kantipur" and a central council member of FNJ's Bardiya chapter, was threatened by administrative officer Tirtha Raj Bhattarai of the District Administrative Office in Bardiya, a mid-western district.

According to Shree Ram Sigdel, president of FNJ's Bardiya chapter, Bhattarai threatened Panthi over a news article published on 17 June in "Kantipur", entitled "Citizenship by DAO Bardia".

FNJ denounces these incidents. Journalists should not be threatened or attacked for their work. There are other legal processes to which one can resort when offended by a news item.

FNJ is also seriously concerned over the increasing rate of attacks and threats made by those responsible for providing security. FNJ urges the government to punish those guilty of assaulting journalists as swiftly as possible.

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