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Paramilitary personnel ransack TV station's office in Balochistan

(PPF/IFEX) - On 4 October 2010, paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) personnel attacked the bureau office of VSH News TV, a private Balochi language TV channel in the city of Hub, in Balochistan province. They harassed the staff members and ransacked and damaged office equipment.

Jabbar Baloch, reporter of VSH News, told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that at 10:30 PM, while he and his three colleagues, cameraman Ghulam Mustafa, non-linear editor Muhammad Salah and intern Farooq Ahmed, were working in the office, eight FC personnel entered the office and ordered them to put their "hands up". The FC personnel then frisked the four staff members and ordered them to get out of the office. The FC personnel then carried out a thorough search of the entire office, looked into the contents of the computer and threw it down on the floor. They also damaged other equipment and office furniture. After this they left the office.

Baloch said he contacted the FC spokesman, who initially denied the incident, claiming these were not FC personnel. After one hour, an FC spokesman called Baloch to tell him that the attack and search was indeed by FC personnel, but it was carried out by misunderstanding.

Baloch told PPF that he had aired footage and critical comments of Balochistan journalists about FC personnel activities a week earlier and he feels that the attack might have been a reaction to that report.

On learning of the incident, a large number of journalists led by Abdul Aziz, President, Lasbela Press Club, reached the spot and held an emergency meeting at the press club. The Hub Electronic Media Association (HEMA) and journalists from other cities of Balochistan - Quetta, Gwadar, Turbat, Khuzdar and Pishin - have strongly condemned the attack on the VSH News office and called it an attack on the freedom of the press.

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