Journalists killed while covering Ebola education campaign in Guinea

Abuja, Nigeria, September 22, 2014–A journalist and two media workers were killed on September 16 while covering an Ebola education campaign in Guinea’s south-eastern forested region, according to news reports and local journalists.

The bodies of Facély Camara, a journalist with the privately owned radio Liberté FM at N’Zérékoré, and Molou Chérif and Sidiki Sidibé, a technician and a technician intern, respectively, with the community station Radio Rurale de N’Zérékoré, were found alongside five other victims in a septic tank in Wome, a village near Guinea’s south-eastern N’Zérékoré region where the first cases of Ebola were documented in March, according to news reports.

“It is tragic that those who could provide help or report on the needs of communities were the ones targeted. Fear and misinformation, like the virus, can be deadly,” said Peter Nkanga, CPJ West Africa Representative. “The authorities must carry out a full and thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice. Anything less could encourage further such attacks.”

In a statement, government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said that the victims, including local administrators, medical officers, and a preacher, were part of a delegation that had been visiting towns and villages as part of a public education program about the disease. Residents began throwing stones at the group and, while some managed to hide and escape, others were caught and had their throats slit, Camara told Reuters in an interview.

Radio Rurale editor Christophe Millimono, who was part of the delegation and managed to escape, told CPJ he couldn’t understand the motive because the group had been well received before they were suddenly attacked. Many villagers have accused health workers of spreading Ebola, the BBC reported.

Guinea authorities have already arrested six suspects, and promised that the investigation into the attack would bring all those responsible to justice, according to news reports.