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Television channel news team detained by armed men, later released

(PPF/IFEX) - Three employees of the Sindh TV television channel were detained by armed men in the area of Sohrab Goth, Karachi on 4 August 2009.

The detained persons included reporter Mushtaque Ahmed Sarki, who is also Joint Secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), cameraman Ahsan Sanjrani and driver Aijaz Ali Chandio.

Sarki told PPF that they had gone to cover a city government operation to evacuate the illegal occupants of two villages, Dildar Umrani Goth and Ali Muhammad Shaikh Goth. The news team covered the event during which the affected persons harshly criticized the Nazim (mayor) belonging to a local political party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

Sarki added that as they were returning to their office at around 4:00 p.m. (local time), five armed men intercepted them, demanding the video cassettes of the coverage. The assailants said they would not permit the media to telecast the villagers' harsh comments against the Nazim and MQM leaders.

The armed men locked the media team in an office and confiscated their camera and mobile phones.

The incident was witnessed by a local person. As a result, a large contingent of villagers came to their rescue and started firing guns in the air. This scared the abductors who agreed to release the media team. In the meantime, a large contingent of police also reached the spot and had them released. The video cassettes and mobile phones were returned to the abducted media personnel.

According to press reports, two abductors, identified as Muhammad Iqbal and Adil Khan, were arrested by police on the spot, while three others managed to escape. The police has registered a case against the five abductors.

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