Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Central African Republic news outlets damaged in rebel raid

Two news outlets were damaged when raided by Central African Republic rebel groups on March 24, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

The rebel groups, known collectively as Seleka, ousted President François Bozize from the capital city of Bangui, BBC World and Reuters reported. The rebel coalition accused Bozize of breaking a peace deal to integrate its fighters into the army in January.

The rebel coalition formed in opposition to Bozize’s failure to share power after his disputed re-election in 2001. Michel Djotodia, leader of Seleka, declared himself interim president, according to France’s RFI radio.

Residents of the city reported widespread pillaging. The Democratic Republic of Congo press freedom group Journaliste en Danger, reported that rebel fighters looted equipment from the studios of Radio Ndeke Luka, an independent station managed by the Swiss Hirondelle Foundation. The rebels took a vehicle, four motorcycles, and two computers from the station, radio director Sylvie Panika said. Panika told CPJ that the station stopped broadcasting that Sunday given the region’s instability and insecurity, but resumed on March 26.

The offices of private daily newspaper Le Confident also suffered a raid from Seleka fighters, according to CPJ. It is unconfirmed whether the station reported any lost equipment, but the newspaper did halt publishing following editor Mathurin Momet’s decision to go into hiding in fear of his own safety.

“The rebels have wiped out all my investments of the past 10 years,” Momet said in an RSF report. “It will be some time before I will be able to resume operating.”

By Nassim Benchaabane. 

The privately-owned Radio Néhémie and the Bangui offices of the Institute Panos Paris were also looted, according to RSF.

Though it was not clear whether the rebels specifically targeted the outlets, CPJ condemned the attacks.

Reporters Without Borders also condemned the raids and called on senior officials within the rebel leadership, which has said it is trying to stop the looting, to order the return of stolen equipment and organize compensation for media that suffered damage.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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