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Chad 15 April 2006

BBC correspondent beaten and questioned by soldiers; special envoy from Radio FM Liberté in Mongo found safe and sound

Reporters Without Borders has learned from the deputy prime minister of human rights, Abderamane Djasnabaille, that FM Liberté journalist and special envoy for the city of Mongo, Eliakim Vanambyl, for whom there was no news since 11 April 2006, has been found safe and sound. Arrested by a unit of United Front for Change (FUC) rebels when they entered the city, Vanambyl was found on 15 April at the home of the Guéra regional secretary general. The minister also explained that signals were crossed between the head of Liberté FM and the secretary general, before they could find a way to allow the journalist to return to N’Djamena in the coming days.

The precise details of this brief disappearance are not yet known. Interrogated by Reporters Without Borders in the course of recent days, several FUC commanders stationed in Mongo on 11 April made it known that they would not release any information about the journalist. They did assure RSF that a missing persons search had been launched.

However, Reporters Without Borders condemns the brutal treatment of BBC correspondent René Dillah Yombirim, severely beaten by soldiers before he was released several hours later. Public radio journalist and French service correspondent for the BBC, Yombirim was arrested by members of the presidential guard on 15 April at 9:15 a.m. (local time) on a street in N’Djamena, according to witnesses.

He was attacked by several soldiers who descended from an all-terrain pick-up truck while he was interviewing residents of Moursal neighbourhood, south of the capital, N’Djamena. He was given a beating and taken by force to an unknown destination before being released early in the afternoon. He suffered multiple bruises and four broken teeth.

Journalists interviewed by Reporters Without Borders have confirmed that they have been under surveillance for several days by the national secret services (l’Agence nationale de renseignements, ANR), after producing a report for the BBC in which residents of N’Djamena expressed favour for the FUC rebels.

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