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Sierra Leone president’s bodyguards ‘beat’ journalists

Three journalists were “beaten” by presidential bodyguards in an attack at a football match in Sierra Leone which left one of them in hospital, a union said Monday.

Two female TV commentators and another reporter were attacked while covering a World Cup qualifier between Sierra Leone and Liberia on Sunday in the capital Freetown, the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone said in a statement.

Frances Barnard and Esther Marie Samura from the state-owned SLBC TV station and freelance journalist Alimmamy Kamara were “seriously beaten and manhandled”, SWASAL said.

The union said that two bodyguards of President Julius Maada Bio — who attended the match — were behind the alleged assault.

“One of the guards, by the name of ‘Sweet’ threatened to shoot and kill (the journalists) with his pistol”, it said.

Secretary-general of the SWASAL, Sahr Morris Junior told AFP that one of the female journalists had been taken to hospital.

The match — which saw Libera qualify to the next stage — was marred by clashes, with Liberia’s national football team claiming that Sierra Leone fans attacked them with bottles, stones and knives when they arrived for training.

The West African country’s sports minister Ibrahim Nyelekeh said the president’s office was investigating the alleged attack.

“We condemn this unfortunate incident against journalists doing their job,” he told AFP.

The president’s office declined to comment.

(AFP)

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