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Journalists threatened by timber smugglers

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Three journalists from Kailali, a district in the far-western region of Nepal, were detained and threatened by timber smugglers on 12 March 2012.

Shravan Deuba, who is associated with the "Nayapatrika" daily, Deepak Oli, of "Sourya" daily, and Bhim Chaudhari, of the Tarai Television station, were held for two hours from 7:30pm onwards by the timber smugglers who threatened to kill them if they reported on the smuggling and deforestation.

Oli told Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk that the journalists had gone to a deforestation site to cover the story and take photographs in the neighbouring Doti district. They were cornered by about 40 smugglers and held for two hours.

Freedom Forum feels this is a serious incident which has violated the right to press freedom, and therefore urges the concerned authorities to take action against the smugglers, and provide protection to the panicked journalists.

The organisation has also expressed concern about two recent attacks on journalists and urges the police to properly investigate both incidents.

Upendra Lamichhane, a journalist from Birgunj, a city in the southern plain in the eastern part of the country, was attacked at the local Simara Chowk (market place), of Bara district on 12 March.

Lamichhane, a reporter with the "Nagarik" daily, was attacked by a person named Arjun Baidya. He suffered injuries to his head and a fractured nose and had to receive treatment at the National Hospital, in Birgunj.

It is not clear why the journalist was attacked. The Area Police Office in Simara arrested the assailant and began investigating the matter.

In a separate incident, Govinda Subedi, a journalist from Pokhara, a western city, was attacked by a gang of about 9-10 people on 11 March.

Subedi, who is associated with the "Himdut" daily published in Pokhara, was returning home from the newspaper office when the incident occurred. He received injuries to his legs and head.

According to a "Himdut" daily editor, Badri Binod Pratik, the journalist's mobile phone was also looted. The district police have arrested a dozen people in connection with the assault and are investigating.

Freedom Forum believes the attack was coordinated because Subedi was thrashed immediately after he left his office. It urges the police administration to investigate the case swiftly and bring the culprits to book.

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