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Two Turkish journalists and Syrian assistants kidnapped

UPDATE: Turkish PM accuses Syria of holding Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun prisoner (IPI, 18 April 2012)

(RSF/IFEX) - 15 March 2012 - Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the fate of two Turkish journalists, Adem Özköse, a reporter for the magazine Gerçek Hayat and the daily Milat, and cameraman Hamit Coşkun, who went missing near the northwestern city of Idlib five days ago.

According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the two journalists and the Syrians who were accompanying them were abducted by Shabiha militiamen in the pay of the Assad government at a checkpoint outside Kefraya, a Shiite village near Bannish, a town just to the northeast of Idlib.

The two Turkish journalists, who had entered Syria to make a documentary, were then reportedly handed over to the Syrian authorities.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Syrian authorities to release the two journalists and their Syrian assistants. Our fears have been reinforced by the information minister's statements on 9 March threatening foreign journalists who enter Syria illegally and the Syrians who help them.

On 9 March, the Syrian armed forces launched a major assault on Idlib, a stronghold of the opposition Free Syrian Army, with a reported civilian death toll of 114. The government forces now control the city but civilian casualties are said to be continuing. Communication with the city has been completely cut off.
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