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Gunmen storm Port Harcourt offices of "The Punch" newspaper; one employee seriously injured

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called on the Nigerian authorities to protect the staff of "The Punch" daily newspaper after two gunmen burst into its offices on 5 June 2007 in Port Harcourt, in the southeastern state of Rivers, looking for an employee.

"This region of Nigeria is particularly dangerous and political kidnappings are becoming more and more frequent there," the press freedom organisation said. "This incident is all the more worrying as the gunmen were looking for one person in particular and showed they meant business by aiming their guns at another employee."

Reporters Without Borders added: "Measures must be taken to ensure the safety of the staff of 'The Punch' until the motives for this attack have been established and those responsible have been identified and brought to justice."

The two gunmen stormed into the privately-owned daily's offices, threatened staff and demanded to see an employee who was absent at the time. They then picked on one of the employees, Christian Madueke, who tried to flee. When they aimed their guns at him, Madueke jumped out of a window. Another employee then set off an alarm, causing the two gunmen to flee. As the newspaper's offices are on a second floor, Madueke was seriously injured by his fall.

"The Punch" has a large circulation and is one of Nigeria's most popular newspapers.

Port Harcourt is located in the Niger Delta, a region of key economic and political importance because of the large number of oil companies operating there.

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