New York, December 4, 2012-All sides of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo should halt attacks on journalists and media outlets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a radio station was attacked and taken off the air.
The offices of Radio Solidarité, a community station in the town of Sake, were ransacked on Friday by rebels belonging to M23, a group of former army officers who have seized towns in the eastern part of the country, according to the station's journalists, the U.N.-backed station Radio Okapi reported. The rebels also confiscated equipment, including a generator and microphones, local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger reported. The station has not been able to broadcast and remains off the air, local journalists said.
Amani Kabashi, a spokesman for M23, denied to CPJ that the rebels had attacked the station.
"We condemn the attack on Radio Solidarité and the seizure of its equipment and call on authorities to immediately investigate the incident," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "Both sides of this conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo must stop attacking journalists and news outlets."
M23 rebels had controlled Sake until Friday, when they started to withdraw after a cease-fire agreement was negotiated with the Congolese government, according to news reports. Sake has been a battleground town in the war between government forces and M23 rebels.
CPJ has documented several attacks on journalists and news outlets amid the conflict in the eastern DRC. Authorities temporarily jammed Radio Okapi in the capital, Kinshasa, on Saturday. At least five other news outlets, including the daily Le Journal, Ngoma FM, Radio Soleil, Radio Liberté, and Radio Télévision Autonome du Sud Kasaï, were censored in 2012 in connection with their coverage of army mutineers rebelling against the government, according to CPJ research. The government imposed a ban on broadcast talk programs on the conflict in eastern DRC in August, according to news reports. Several journalists have also reported being threatened in reprisal for their reporting on the subject.