Radio journalist severely beaten by unidentified assailants

New York, July 6, 2005—Unidentified assailants kidnapped and brutally beat a commentator for the independent Radio Kledu yesterday in the Malian capital, Bamako. Hamidou Diarra was found several hours later about 10 miles (15 kilometers) outside of Bamako, Radio Kledu director Abel Koné told CPJ. No suspects were immediately identified.

Local journalists said they believe that the assault on Diarra was linked to his work at the radio station. Diarra, known on-air as “Dragon,” presents a popular program in the Malian language Bambara in which he often criticizes alleged abuses of power by local politicians and others.

Diarra told co-workers and other journalists that he was kidnapped by men driving a sports utility vehicle after finishing his program at the radio station at around 11:30 a.m. They blindfolded him and beat him all over his body, including his head, hands, and feet, before dumping him in a remote area outside the capital. Diarra was treated at a local hospital and taken to a safe location, Abel Koné said.

Malian police are investigating the attack and have not publicly specified the motive.

“We’re deeply disturbed by this violent attack on a journalist,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. “We call on Malian authorities to ensure that the assault on Hamidou Diarra is thoroughly investigated and that all perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.”