Violence in Guinea leads to attacks on journalists, outlets

Several journalists and news outlets covering political unrest in the capital, Conakry, were attacked in late February and March 2013, according to local journalists and news reports.

Violence ensued between opposition militants and supporters of President Alpha Condé about the repeated postponement of the 2013 legislative elections, according to news reports. The crisis exacerbated ethnic tensions between two tribes, the Malinke, who dominated the president’s party, and the Peul, who led the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea. Journalists perceived to belong to either ethnic group were subsequently targeted by rival factions. Dozens were injured and at least three people killed in the clashes, according to news reports.

Local journalists told CPJ that supporters of the ruling party, the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), threatened Idiatou Diallo, a reporter for the private station Lynx FM, while she interviewed an official in the party’s headquarters on February 27. Violent clashes had ensued outside the headquarters that day between opposition militants, security forces, and supporters of the president. At least 130 people were wounded, news reports said.

Diallo told CPJ that the militants called her a spy after she pulled out her audio recorder to conduct the interview. RPG supporters threatened to attack her, saying she belonged to the Peul ethnic group, she said. Shortly after, she and Lynx FM reporter Mamadou Bobo Barry fled a mob of opposition supporters who were hurling stones at the party offices, she said.

A third reporter with Lynx FM, Asmaou Diallo, was assaulted by unknown assailants outside the RPG office despite wearing a press vest, the journalist told CPJ. She said the attackers slapped her after someone said she was an “opposition journalist.”

Aboubacar Diakité, a reporter with the private L’Observateur and news site Médiaguinée, told CPJ he was stopped by police and slapped by an officer outside the RPG office. Diakité sustained a bloody lip, according to a photo taken by Agence France-Presse.

On March 1, a bullet was fired into the offices of the private station Planète FM, while security forces and protesters clashed in the Koloma neighborhood of Conakry, according to the Union of Free Radio and Television Stations of Guinea, a local press union known as URTELGUI. No one was injured, but the bullet left a hole in a third-floor window of the station’s office, Moussa Yero Bah, Planète FM’s news editor, told CPJ. The station’s director was in the office at the time with opposition leader, Faya Millimono, who had been interviewed earlier that day, news reports said.

On March 3, at around 3 a.m., unknown assailants attempted to break into a building housing the offices of private station Renaissance FM in Koloma, according to URTELGUI. Unable to enter the building, the attackers threw stones at the windows of the station’s offices on the third floor of the building, David Toundousédouno, the station’s director of programs, told CPJ. Toundousédouno said he believed the attackers were neighborhood protesters who had been clashing with security forces. The demonstrators believed the station’s reporting had drawn police to the area, he said.

On March 4, in the midst of violence between the Malinke and Peul ethnic groups in Conakry, an angry mob attacked Renaissance FM reporter N’sira Tambaya Bangoura while she was returning to her station from reporting on a political rally, Deputy Programs Editor Fatoumata Sy Savane told CPJ. Bangoura said she was hit with stones despite identifying herself as a journalist. She told CPJ the mob accused her of belonging to the Malinke tribe and that she was able to escape by seeking refuge with the owner of a nearby restaurant.

Commander Mamadou Alpha Barry, a spokesman for Guinea’s security forces, told CPJ that investigations would be conducted into all attacks.