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Thailand 28 November 2008

Reporters Without Borders appeals for calm after attacks on media outlets

Reporters Without Borders today called on both sides in the unrest in Thailand to stop physical attacks on the media and urged journalists to resist the temptation to fall into propaganda in their reports.

The worldwide press freedom organisation condemned a shooting and grenade attack in Bangkok today on the satellite station ASTV in Bangkok, owned by Sondhi Limthongkul, a leader of the opposition Popular Alliance for Democracy (PAD). A pro-government radio station in Bangkok was also attacked and in Chiang Mai, the manager of a pro-opposition radio was killed.

“The media must not be targets in the current government-opposition conflict and must be allowed to continue doing their job of informing the public,” it said. “Journalists themselves must also clearly respect the line between news and partisan campaigning.”

Activists in a boat on the city’s Chaopraya River shot at ASTV premises under cover of darkness and threw grenades, causing minor damage and slightly injuring one of the station’s presenters, Natthawut Mitmark. The station had also been attacked by grenades on 24 November.

Government supporters dragged the collaborator of a radio station in Chiang Mai from his moto on 26 November and killed him, police said. It was not known if he was attacked because of his opposition ties or because he worked with the station.

A cameraman of the state-run TV station TPBS was threatened by PAD demonstrators earlier this week after he filmed them firing at government supporters. The opposition protesters tried to grab his film.

Shots were fired and a home-made bomb thrown at the studios in Bangkok of the pro-government Taxi Radio 92.75 FM, which serves taxi-drivers, injuring two people late on 26 November. PAD security agents had beaten taxi-drivers at the same spot the previous day.

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