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Nepal 28 February 2005

Maoists ransack and torch television station

Reporters Without Borders condemned a raid by hundreds of armed Maoist rebels who ransacked and torched public Nepal Television (NTV) in Kohalpur in the southwest on 23 February.

The attack, which blacked out programmes in the west of the country, was the first launched by the Maoists, since King Gyanendra’s royal coup on 1st February.

"It is unacceptable that the press, gagged on one side by the king, should also be targeted by rebels," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The Maoist raiders struck shortly before midnight, breaking down the main door, stealing seven cameras and other equipment and cutting telephone lines. They stayed for four hours, burning files and setting fire to the offices before fleeing.

Nobody was injured in the raid but it halted all programmes in western Nepal and the damage was estimated at nearly 70 million rupees (about 800,000 euros).

All the national dailies splashed the story on 26 February. One editor, who asked for anonymity, told Reporters Without Borders that military leaders blamed him for encouraging the Maoists by giving the incident such wide media coverage.

Maoist rebels planted a bomb at the same television station in 1997 and in 2004, they murdered a reporter from Radio Nepal and kidnapped at least three journalists.

Rebel leader Comrade Prachanda has been on Reporters Without Borders’ list of press freedom "predators" for the past three years.

In this country
30 April - Nepal
Radio station threatened by Maoists
8 February - Nepal
Nepalese media in great danger, International Press Freedom Mission finds
14 January - Nepal
Four arrested for woman journalist’s murder, while clandestine group claims responsibility
12 January - Nepal
Journalist and women’s rights activist brutally murdered
23 December - Nepal
Militant maoists continue their attacks against the media

in the annual report
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