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Ruling party militants ransack opposition radio station, knock it out of service; journalists manhandled by security personnel

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 13 August 2008, Unity Radio, a Freetown-based radio station owned by the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), was ransacked by supporters of the ruling All People's Congress party (APC), disrupting the normal broadcast of the station.

MFWA's correspondent reported that the attackers stormed the station, which is located within the premises of the SLPP's headquarters, and took away the studio's power generator.

The attack followed clashes between supporters of the two main parties that prompted a meeting at the State House. After the meeting, security personnel manhandled several journalists and opposition representatives.

Michael Charlie Hinga, the station's general manager, told MFWA's correspondent they are working around the clock to resume active broadcasting in the coming days.

However, the Sierra Leone government has expressed concern over the clashes between political party supporters and the attacks on journalists caught in the crossfire.

"We have allowed the media in this country to practice freely, and therefore we should also be able to protect members of the media," the BBC quoted Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, the minister of information, as saying.

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