In Mali, rebels assault journalist, force station off the air

Rebel fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a separatist movement of ethnic Tuaregs in northern Mali, stormed the offices of private Radio Adar Khoïma in the northeastern town of Gao on April 3, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports. The rebels kidnapped a journalist and assaulted him, and forced the station off the air for 72 hours, the sources said.

Malick Aliou Maïga told Agence France-Presse that the rebels took him to their camp, beat him, and threatened to kill him. He said the rebels told him he should not criticize them and then released him after an hour, AFP reported.

Radio Adar Khoïma Director Boubacar Djibrila told CPJ that the rebels were angry at Maïga’s coverage of local citizens’ criticism of the MNLA fighters using weapons to forcefully seize the town. MNLA rebels had seized Gao and other towns in the region at the end of March 2012, according to news reports.

The station was allowed to resume broadcasting after negotiations between the local elders and the rebels, Djibrila told CPJ.

Mohamed Assaley, a rebel official, told AFP that “[Maïga] said things that go beyond freedom of the press. We gave him advice and we let him go, that’s it.”