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Mozambican journalist arrested in jihadist-hit region

He was being held at a military prison with no access to lawyers, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Amnesty International.

FILE: Mozambique police on patrol. Picture: AFP

MAPUTO – Mozambique has arrested a respected journalist working in the northern region wracked by a jihadist insurgency, in a second such arrest in weeks, according to global media and rights watchdogs.

Amade Abubacar, a community radio journalist for the state-owned Radio e Televisao Comunitária Nacedje de Macomia in northern Cabo Delgado province, was seized by police at a bus stop at the weekend while conducting interviews and taking photographs of people fleeing from militant attacks.

He was being held at a military prison with no access to lawyers, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Amnesty International.

Macomia is one of the areas worst hit by the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique.

Jihadist fighters have terrorised remote communities in the gas-rich and Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region for more than a year, staging brazen gun and knife attacks on civilians leaving over 100 dead and thousands fleeing their homes.

Angela Quintal, CPJ's Africa programme coordinator on Wednesday urged Mozambique to immediately free the journalist without charge and to "stop censoring coverage of the insurgency by detaining journalists and accusing them of colluding with militants".

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Tigere Chagutah said instead of targeting journalists, Mozambican authorities "should be trying to understand the root causes of the violence and taking action to protect civilians".

"This is the latest display of contempt for freedom of expression and media freedom by the Mozambican authorities, who see journalists as a threat and treat them like criminals," said Chagutah.

The military last month arrested internationally acclaimed investigative reporter Estacio Valoi in the same province, but released him after two days without charge.

In June last year, a Zimbabwean correspondent for the South African private broadcaster eNCA, Pindai Dube, was also arrested in Cabo Delgado while covering the militant attacks in the region, according to local Mozambican media.

Last month Human Rights Watch accused security forces waging the fight against jihadists in the country's north of "serious abuses" of human rights including summary executions and arbitrary detention of people suspected of participating in the insurgency.

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