Ando Ratovonirina

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Photo by Mirindra Rabarivelo

Ratovonirina, a reporter and cameraman for the private broadcaster Radio Télévision Analamanga (RTA), was shot dead by presidential guards while covering an antigovernment demonstration in the capital, Antananarivo, according to witnesses.

When soldiers opened fire on opposition demonstrators marching toward the presidential palace, a bullet struck Ratovonirina in the head, according to local journalists. The journalist was carrying a notebook and sound equipment, according to reporter Mirindra Raparivelo, who was filming the scene for RTA. Raparivelo recalled the hiss of bullets and the smell of gunfire as he crawled to safety uninjured.

At least 25 people were killed and another 167 injured in the shootings, according to The Associated Press. The country’s defense minister resigned to protest the shootings, while the United Nations called for “a fair process by which those responsible will be brought to justice.”

The shootings came amid a deepening power struggle between President Marc Ravalomanana and his rival, Andry Rajoelina, the outspoken 34-year-old mayor of Antananarivo. Rajoelina took control of the government later in the year.

Ratovonirina, 26, was the first journalist killed in the line of duty in Madagascar since CPJ began keeping detailed death records in 1992. He was distinguished for his passion for journalism since joining RTA in October 2008, according to Editor-in-Chief Andry Raveloson. “He had just completed his communications studies at the university and wanted to practice,” Raveloson said. He said the young journalist had also worked for a local newspaper prior to joining the station.

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