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Senegal5 May 2006

Journalist savagely beaten by witch doctor’s followers

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by a vicious attack on journalist, Pape Sheikk Fall, who works for an independent Senegalese radio station, Radio Futurs Médias (RFM) in Mbacké (east of the Capital Dakar).

The journalist was pounced on by seven men armed with iron bars and cables on 4 May 2006. They beat him about the head and neck, leaving him unable to work for the next two weeks.

Witnesses identified one of his assailants as a follower of the marabout (witch doctor), Sheikh Béthio Thioune. The marabout had told the press last week that he planned to support the re-election campaign of the current president, Abdoulaye Wade, at elections in February 2007, adding that he could deliver “four million disciples”.

The assault on the journalist was in reaction to an interview he did on 27 April with one of the marabout’s disciples who cast doubts on the degree of the support he said he enjoyed.

“Beating up a journalist who reports unwelcome news is an act from another age, which calls for a firm reaction from the Senegalese authorities,” the press freedom organisation said.

“The police must carry out an urgent and thorough investigation into the attack and punish those who were responsible. There must be no impunity for those tempted to silence or intimidate the press during an election campaign”.

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