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Television channel reporting team attacked

(PPF/IFEX) - A reporting team of "SAMAA TV", a private news channel, was attacked by unknown armed individuals who detained the crew for over two hours on 1 January 2011 in the industrial town of Faisalabad in Pakistan's largest Punjab province.

The reporting team included reporter Mannan Ashraf, cameraman Salman Ashraf, trainees Muhammad Sajid and Muhammad Saeed, satellite engineer Irfan Serwer and driver Mohammed Majeed.

Ashraf told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that they were working on an interview for a programme called "Faisla Aap Ka" about the lifestyle of transgendered individuals. While the SAMAA crew was conducting the interview, two men attacked their van. When Serwer and Majeed, who were in the van, asked why the van had been attacked, they used abusive language and demanded that the reporting team leave the area. After a heated exchange, the two men left to call for backup.

Ashraf said they proceeded with the interview and as they were packing up the equipment, around 10 to 15 people with weapons, wooden sticks and bricks attacked them. The members of the crew tried to save their vehicle and equipment and during their struggle they received bruises on their body.

The whole crew managed to hide in a vacant residence. The attackers besieged the house and shouted slogans against the media. Ashraf then informed the police and the SAMAA TV office about the incident. When the police arrived, they arrested only one of the attackers while the others escaped.

The president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Shaukat Pervez, and the president of the Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ), Rai Hasnain, demanded that the Punjab government take immediate action against the attackers and punish the culprits.

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