Gambia crisis: Two more radio stations shut down

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Banjul - Two more private Gambian radio stations have been ordered off air for unspecified reasons, staff said Monday, after a first station was shut down at the weekend amid a political standoff in the west African nation.

On Sunday popular station Teranga FM, whose manager had previously been charged for sharing a provocative photo of President Yahya Jammeh, was ordered to stop broadcasting by national security agents.

On Monday two other stations, Hilltop Radio and Afri Radio, had also stopped broadcasting, according to an AFP correspondent.

Hilltop Radio chief Basiru Darboe said his seven-year-old station was shut down by three operatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

"Three people who identified themselves as staff of the National Intelligence Agency came to the radio station on Sunday around 16:00 and asked me to stop transmission," he told AFP.

'Publication of false news'

They declined to give a reason, saying only that they had been ordered to tell him to stop transmission.

A source at Afri Radio said the station was also ordered to stop transmission by NIA agents without explanation, but gave no further details.

Teranga FM, which translates news from Gambian papers into local languages, has been ordered off air previously.

In July 2015 its station manager Alagie Ceesay was arrested by the country's secret police on charges of sedition and "publication of false news" relating to allegations that he distributed images by mobile phone of a gun pointed at a picture of President Jammeh.

Jammeh, who has ruled the small west African country with an iron fist since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, lost December's presidential election but has rejected the results and filed a court challenge.

He is regularly accused of rights abuses and repression of the media.

The Gambia ranked 145 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2016 World Press Freedom Index, pointing to "a climate of terror around anything remotely to do with journalism".

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