Journalists assaulted while covering anti-government protests in Colombia

Bogotá, May 28 (EFE).- Several press photographers were assaulted by police and some people in civvies while doing their job to cover violent anti-government protests in Colombia Friday.

Those attacked include EFE photojournalist Mauricio Dueñas who was in Madrid town near Bogotá rocked by riots throughout the day.

The assaults took place in Madrid of Cundinamarca region and the Cali city, media organizations said.

Dueñas said he was clicking pictures of anti-riot police charging towards a group of protesters when other police personnel pushed him to the ground.

“I was taking pictures when two agents came running behind me. They pushed me, they threw me to the ground and I fell. I kept taking pictures of the arrest of a man,” the EFE journalist.

One of the cameras of the photographer got damaged in the police action.

“It was like they did not want me to (take photographic evidence) of what was happening,” said Dueñas.

The journalist was wearing a bulletproof vest that read “press.” He has been working alongside the police for a long time.

Another photographer associated with the Publimetro newspaper also suffered a police attack and was injured, its editor Alejandro Pino tweeted.

Pino also tweeted a picture of the journalist with what looks like a shrapnel wound on his back.

More assaults against journalists took place in Cali, the epicenter of the weeks-long “general strike” against the government of right-wing President Ivan Duque.

On Friday, three people died violently in the third-largest city of Colombia.

Cali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said a situation occurred between the protesters and those who wanted to clear the blocked street.

An eyewitness said he saw a man whose path protesters had blocked pull out a gun and shoot.

The man killed two people before protesters overpowered and killed him, the eyewitness said.

The assaults on journalists have sparked outrage from various press freedom organizations.

The media freedom watchdog, FLIP, expressed its concern about the security situation of the press in Cali.

The watchdog said it had documented 179 attacks on journalists during the weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

They include 64 were physical assaults, 34 threats, 15 work obstructions, 12 robberies, 11 harassment, six illegal detentions, and seven denials of access to information.

“These unprecedented figures demonstrate the inability of the government to guarantee security to the press,” said FLIP.

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