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Ex-paramilitaries attack journalists with machetes

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has condemned an 11 July 2005 attack on three journalists by former members of the paramilitary Civilian Self-Defence Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, PAC) in the northeastern Chiquimula region. It is the second machete attack on journalists by ex-paramilitaries in four months.

"We call for the punishment of those responsible so that this kind of violence does not reoccur and journalists are free to cover local events without fearing for their lives," the organisation said.

Rolando Hernández and Arnulfo Ortiz, of "Vanguardia Informativa", and Edwin Paxtor, of the television programme "TV Enfasis", were attacked while covering a demonstration by former PAC members protesting what they deemed inadequate compensation by government for their support to the army during the 1960-1996 civil war.

The demonstrators attacked the journalists with machetes, chased them and took their equipment. Hernández received a machete blow to the head and was hit on other parts of his body with sticks. Other reporters working for the national media were also chased. The victims held ex-PAC leader Víctor Hugo Argueta Corado responsible.

In a similar outbreak of violence during a demonstration by former paramilitaries in Guatemala City in March, Ewin Silva of the "Telediario" news programme, his cameraman, Carlos García, and Carla Solórzano of Radio Universidad, were also attacked with machetes (see IFEX alert of 4 March 2005).

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