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Reporters assaulted by health sector workers; truck drivers threaten to set fire to newspaper headquarters

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 3 September 2008, several reporters were assaulted by a group of health sector workers who were staging a protest calling for better working conditions in the city of Iquitos, Loreto region, northeastern Peru. The incident took place while the reporters were covering a confrontation between the demonstrators and some of their colleagues who had decided not to take part in the strike. The reporters' assailants did not want the events to be covered.

The reporters assaulted were Canal 19 television station camera operator Walter Macuyama, Panamericana Televisión station correspondents Gustavo Vásquez and Patricia Macedo and Henry Sánchez of Canal 43 television station.

The workers' leader, Janis Flores, apologised for the incident but the journalists decided not to continue their coverage of the health workers' demonstration.

On 4 September, reporters from several of the city's media outlets staged a demonstration in front of the Loreto Regional Hospital, protesting against the assault on their colleagues.

In a separate incident, on 2 September, a group of truck drivers from several different companies entered the offices of "Ahora" newspaper and threatened to set fire to the building. They said their actions stemmed from the fact that "Ahora" had reported allegations that some people use the inter-provincial transport system for drug trafficking purposes. The incident took place in Bagua Grande, in the Amazonas region, northern Peru.

Journalist Harold Chota told IPYS that approximately fifty truck drivers entered the newspaper's building and struck journalist Percy Uriarte and staff member Tamayo Silvano.

The journalists filed a complaint with the Bagua Grande police. They identified one of their assailants as Esperanza Pérez Romero and another as an individual who goes by the alias of "Negra Polo".

Chota said that the newspaper published the transit workers' side of the story on 3 September.

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