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Journalists attacked during confrontation between police and demonstrators

(OLA/IFEX) - On 20 November 2009, a group of journalists were assaulted physically and verbally by members of the Peruvian National Police (Policía Nacional del Perú, PNP) while reporting on a demonstration in Abancay province, in the Apurimac region. The targeted journalists were: Marcelo Santana, from Canal 29; Miguel Bellido Almeida, a correspondent for "El Comercio" newspaper; Carlos Peña Costillo, of the Andina de Radiodifusión (ATV) network; Paúl Pilco Dorregaray, a correspondent for "Correo" newspaper in southern Peru; Winston Callalli Campana, from Canal 15, and Jesús Camacho Quispe, from Canal 11 TV Amistad. Moreover, Wilman Caichihua Robles, of the Inka Tropical radio station, and Javier Ustúa Camacho, host of the "Pulso Regional" programme broadcast on radio Inka, were insulted and hit by some of the demonstrators.

The police used tear gas and shot their guns into the air to violently suppress the demonstrators who were demanding that the Apurímac regional president step down because of alleged irregularities.

Journalist Peña Costillo said he was accosted by police who threatened to beat him if he continued filming and did not leave the area.

Three armed and hooded police officers approached Pilco Dorregaray while he was taking photographs. They took his camera, insulted him and ripped his press vest. Later that same night the digital camera was returned to the journalist but the memory card which contained that day's images was removed.

Journalists Callalli Campana, Camacho Quispe, Santana and Bellido Almeida were also insulted and threatened by the police, who prevented them from covering the demonstration.

Ustúa Camacho was chased by some of the demonstrators who threw stones at him and were almost ready to lynch him.

Caichihua Robles was taking photographs of some young people who were blocking the road with stones when he was insulted and harassed. Some of the demonstrators tried to take his camera. The journalist lamented the fact that "some groups want to silence the independent press . . . they fail to understand the important role journalists play by reporting on a plurality of views and opinions and allowing members of society to dialogue on important matters."

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