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Armed men raid Sudanese newspaper, beat editor

The aftermath of a raid on the offices of the Sudanese paper Al-Tayar, seen here, in which the paper's editor-in-chief was attacked. (AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

New York, July 22, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on the offices of a privately owned newspaper in Sudan in which the publication's editor and another journalist were beaten.

On Saturday, a group of armed men in plain clothes raided the offices of the daily Al-Tayar in the capital, Khartoum, confiscated laptops and cellphones, and destroyed equipment, according to news reports citing witnesses. The assailants also used their guns to beat the paper's editor-in-chief, Osman Mirghani, and another journalist, Abdullah Ishak, according to news reports. Mirghani sought treatment at a local hospital for his injuries. Ishak did not suffer serious injuries, the reports said.

Mirghani had appeared in a television interview on July 13 with the privately owned Sudanese channel Blue Nile in which he called on Sudan to normalize relations with Israel. He had also written a column about the issue in Al-Tayar, which was published on July 17.

On Monday, a group, identifying itself as the "Hamza Group Against Atheism and Heresy" issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack on Al-Tayar and the journalists, according to the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Wafd. According to the statement, the group has vowed to attack anyone who is "hostile to the Palestinian resistance."

Also on Monday, Ibrahim Ghandour, assistant to the president, issued a statement condemning the attack, according to news reports. Abdul Rahman al-Khider, governor of Khartoum state, vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The Sudanese government must show in actions, not just words, that it has no tolerance for assaults on the press," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "We urge authorities to identify those responsible for the attack on Al-Tayar and to prosecute them to the full extent of the law."

Al-Tayar has been harassed by the government in recent years. In 2012, the paper's print runs were confiscated several times, and in June 2012 the paper was suspended without explanation after covering government corruption.

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