Watchdog raps Nepal Maoists over media violence

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KATHMANDU, Oct 3 (Reuters) An international media watchdog rapped Nepal's Maoists today over attacks by workers affiliated with the former rebels that has disrupted or stopped the publication of the country's two leading newspapers.

Pro-Maoist workers of the Kantipur Publications, demanding better conditions, have attacked the printing press forcing the company to stop the publication of the popular Nepali daily, Kantipur, and the English language Kathmandu Post newspapers.

They have also disrupted the distribution of the dailies printed outside the capital.

''It is clear the dispute is not just about wage demands,'' Paris-based watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, said today in a statement received.

''The Maoist unions are displaying a high level of intolerance and their actions are a complete violation of the undertakings the Maoist leaders gave to support press freedom,'' it said.

Yesterday, hundreds of Nepali journalists and human rights activists marched in protest against the attack on the media.

The Maoists, who began fighting the monarchy in 1996, signed a peace deal with the government, ending their decade-long civil war and joining the political mainstream.

But last month, they quit the government demanding an immediate abolition of the monarchy and declaration of a republic ahead of the November elections meant to map the Himalayan nation's political future.

The Kantipur Publications, is a private media house, which has a number of publications, a television channel as well as a radio station.

Reuters SG DB1249

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