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Pakistan 31 January 2005

Islamist gang attacks offices of press group Jang in Karachi

Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked by an attack by about 30 armed Islamist militants against the offices of privately-owned press group Jang in Karachi in the south of the country.

The night raid, on 29-30 January 2005, followed the diffusion of an interview with Israeli deputy prime minister Shimon Peres.

The worldwide press freedom organisation expressed its solidarity with the three media targeted in the press group, one of the country’s largest.

"The security forces must identify and arrest those responsible for this attack that appears to sound a warning to media who show editorial courage," it said.

Attackers, who fired in the air and beat up the night watchmen, broke into the Jang offices housing Urdu-language Geo TV and the daily newspapers The News and Jang and vandalised the offices. They also damaged cars parked in front of the building, including an outside broadcast van belonging to Geo TV. They ran away shouting "Allah Akbar" (God is great).

Federal information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, promised that the raiders would be tracked down.

Journalists on Geo TV told Reporters Without Borders that the attack was in reaction to the Jang group’s publication and broadcast of an interview with deputy Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, who called for the establishment of diplomatic relations between his country and Pakistan.

Other journalists in Karachi considered that the Islamists were reacting to a Geo TV talk show on sexuality.

Young militants from a Shiite organisation attacked the offices of the Lahore press club on 14 January, leaving around a dozen journalists injured.

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