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Reporter assaulted with iron rod

(PPF/IFEX) - Muhammad Hussain Khan, staff correspondent for Pakistan's leading English language daily "Dawn", was assaulted on December 31, 2009 by workers of the Sindh National Front (SNF) nationalist party in Hyderabad, the second largest city in Sindh.

Khan was attacked with an iron rod by two SNF workers who had been waiting for him as he was on his way to the Hyderabad Press Club. Khan said one of the assailants rebuked him for putting tough questions to SNF chief Mumtaz Ali Bhutto during a recent press briefing.

Khan received several head injuries and one of his fingers was fractured. He was rushed to the hospital where he received three stitches to his head and is stated to be in stable condition.

According to press reports, Khan was assaulted because the SNF did not like his handling of the statement Bhutto made about the National Finance Commission Award dealing with the distribution of financial resources between provinces in Pakistan, which was published in "Dawn" on December 24.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the attack and called it "a sign of the falling level of tolerance in our society." The PFUJ demanded the government take action against the culprits in accordance with the law.

Journalists in Hyderabad held a general body meeting at the Hyderabad Press Club and also staged a protest rally condemning the incident and calling it an attack on press freedom. The general body adopted a resolution, demanding the immediate arrest of the culprits, and announced its members would boycott coverage of the SNF until an apology was tendered by the party's leadership and the two workers involved in the attack were handed over to police.

The police have recovered the rod from the site of the attack and have registered a case against two unidentified persons based on Khan's complaint.

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