Militants attack Indian journalist’s house in Manipur

New York, August 14, 2012–Indian authorities should immediately investigate a grenade attack that targeted a prominent local journalist on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. No one was injured in the attack, which came in the wake of death threats made by local insurgents against editors, according to news reports.

Assailants threw a grenade at the home of Ahongsangbam Mobi, editor of the local Manipuri-language Sanaleibak newspaper and president of the All Manipur Working Journalist Union, in Imphal City in the northeast state of Manipur, according to news reports. Mobi, who was in the kitchen during the attack, told his colleagues that the grenade appeared to be aimed at his home office, suggesting that his attackers had monitored his movements, news reports said.

Imphal, the capital of the insurgency-ridden state, was under security alert at the time of the attack, after militants called for a strike on India’s Independence Day, August 15, according to news reports. Local editors, including Mobi, reported receiving death threats after they refused to publish a statement by Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup (Military Defence Force), a local insurgent group, which announced the strike and threatened harm against unnamed individuals, the news reports said. Several militant factions in the region advocate for a separate state, regional autonomy, or independence from India, CPJ research shows.

Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup (Military Defence Force) later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the local Indian Express newspaper.

“It is deeply concerning that insurgents were able to attack Ahongsangbam Mobi’s home especially after threats had been made against senior editors and journalists,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Authorities in Manipur must strengthen protection for journalists and act swiftly to prosecute those responsible for this incident.”

Manipur’s beleaguered press has faced ongoing threats, including other bomb attacks, from militant groups, CPJ research shows. The media have also come under pressure from security forces seeking to contain the militants’ influence. In 2011, Mobi spent seven nights in detention for allegedly cooperating with banned groups when he was actually negotiating with them for journalists’ safety, according to CPJ research.

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