Malian journalist 'beaten to a pulp'

2012-07-13 22:36

Bamako - The director of a Malian private newspaper was seized at his office on Thursday night by armed men who fired shots in the newsroom and beat him badly before releasing him, a colleague told AFP.

"Several armed men came on Thursday to the newspaper's offices. They shot into the air and forcefully kidnapped Saouti Haidara," said a journalist with L'Independant newspaper, who asked not to be named.

"Saouti was threatened in front of us while he was giving instructions to the printer about the [next day's] newspaper," he added. "The armed men were very tense."

A few hours later Haidara was released but according to the journalist "he was beaten, tortured, by the armed men. He was admitted very quickly to a medical centre in Bamako. He was really beaten to a pulp."

Haidara was also arrested briefly by state intelligence agents in June.

Several other journalists have been attacked or held briefly since Mali was plunged into crisis by a 22 March which created a political vacuum that allowed several armed groups to seize the country's north.

Journalist Haby Baby, who works for two separate publications, was arrested twice, most recently for denouncing the conditions under which he and other prisoners were held.

"Horrible things happen in these secret places, these isolated cells, these dark and terrifying hallways where you hear abominable screams, calls for help," wrote Baby.

In May the director of bi-monthly private journal Le Pretoire, Birama Fall, was also held by state security agents over an article he had written.

Last week another journalist was taken and beaten by armed men in balaclavas.

While the junta has handed power over to an interim government, the coup leaders remain influential in Bamako.