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Sudan31 August 2006

Police dispersing Khartoum demo arrest three reporters and beat Al-Jazeera cameraman

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the violence with which the Sudanese police dispersed a demonstration in central Khartoum yesterday afternoon, arbitrarily arresting at least three journalists. The demonstration was called by a score of opposition parties in protest against fuel and sugar price hikes.

"Under pressure from its own population and the international community, the Khartoum government is clearly losing its composure and its sense of responsibility," the press freedom organisation said. "The journalists covering the demonstration were targeted because they were seeing too much. It is unacceptable that the police should behave in this way towards the press."

Two women journalists covering the demonstration for the privately-owned, Arabic-language daily Akhir Lahrza, reporter Iman Abdelbagi Al-khidir, 27, and trainee Maha Gabir Mabrouk, 25, were held by the police for two hours, during which time they were insulted and mistreated, and their notebooks were confiscated.

Another Sudanese journalist who did not want to be identified was also arrested and held for more than an hour at the Khartoum municipal police station before being released. He was mistreated by the police, who confiscated his camera and his audio recorder.

Ibrahim Muhammad Abdulrahman, a cameraman with the Qatar-based satellite TV news station Al-Jazeera, was attacked and his equipment was briefly seized. The Reuters news agency quoted a witness as saying he saw police chase Abdulrahman, beat him with their batons and fire teargas grenades at him.

Witnesses told Reporters Without Borders the police were very hostile right from the start of the rally and began charging demonstrators without being provoked.

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