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Guatemala12 July 2005

Ex-paramilitaries attack journalists again with machetes

Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack on three journalists by former members of the paramilitary Civilian Self-Defence Patrols (PAC) yesterday in the northeastern Chiquimula region, the second attack on journalists by ex-paramilitaries using machetes in four months.

"We call for the punishment of those responsible so that this kind of violence does not recur and journalists are free to cover local events without fearing for their lives," the press freedom organisation said.

Rolando Hernández and Arnulfo Ortiz of Vanguardia Informativa and Edwin Paxtor of the television programme TV Enfasis were attacked while covering a demonstration by former PAC members demanding more government "compensation" for the help they gave the army during the 1960-1996 civil war.

The demonstrators hit them with machetes, chased them and took their equipment. Hernández received a machete blow to the head and was hit on other parts of his body with sticks. Other reporters working for national media were also chased. The victims held ex-PAC leader Víctor Hugo Argueta Corado responsible.

Ewin Silva of the TV station Telediario, his cameraman, Carlos García, and Carla Solórzano of Radio Universidad also received machete blows in a similar outbreak of violence during a demonstration by former paramilitaries in Guatemala City in March.

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