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Senior journalist attacked for his reporting

(PPF/IFEX) - Niaz Bhatti, 40, a senior reporter for the Sindhi-language daily "Ibrat", was attacked in the town of Mehar in the Dadu district, Sindh province on November 22, 2010, allegedly for his reporting on the illegal seizure of lands and increasing criminal activities in the Dadu district.

Bhatti, who was admitted to hospital, told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that Samaa TV approached him about making a documentary film on dacoit (criminal) activities and illegal seizure of lands. Bhatti accompanied the media team to the Katcha area of Mehar, where a group of dacoits in vehicles recognized him and threatened him with dire consequences. The threat was repeated three days later.

Bhatti further said that on the morning of November 22, when he was on his way to the press club, a gang of seven people stopped him and started firing to create panic. While shopkeepers shut down the market, several armed persons beat Bhatti with butts and batons and left him unconscious.

Bhatti was critically injured and rushed to Civil Hospital in Mehar, where doctors advised that he be transfered to Civil Hospital LMUH in Hyderabad. He sustained fractures to his head, shoulders, arms and legs. His condition was later stated to be stable.

Bhatti further said that he has also filed many stories in newspapers about dacoity (armed robbery), kidnapping and illegal land seizures.

A criminal complaint has been registered against Ali Hassan Chandio and six other persons.

Javed Ali Soomro, General Secretary of the Mehar Press Club, told PPF that journalists from Dadu, Larkana, Shikarpur and Hyderabad strongly condemned the attack on Bhatti. Soomro said that journalists are continuing to protest the issue.

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