- Two independent newspapers in Senegal were raided by unidentified men over the weekend using tear gas and grenades against journalists, reports confirmed today.
Committee for Defence of Journalists said in a statement that around a dozen men took part in raids on Sunday on L'As and 24 heures Chrono newspapers chasing staff away and destroying equipment.
Editor of 24 Heures Chrono, El Malick Seck linked attacks to government authorities.
The newspaper accused Farba Senghor, Air Transport Minister and propaganda chief for Wade's ruling Democratic Party (PDS), of being behind the raid on the office in a front page headline printed over a photo of the damaged office.
Mr Senghor accused L'As and 24 Heures Chrono and two other papers on Friday of a "relentless, orchestrated" campaign after a series of critical stories, some about his private life.
"There is no difference between verbal, written and physical violence. Press freedom does not give a journalist the right to repeatedly attack honest citizens, whatever their position, with microphone or pen and go unpunished," he quoted to have said in a statement.
Tensions between President Abdoulaye Wade's Cabinet and independent media have escalated in recent months, after police beat two radio reporters at a soccer match and many media outlets backed protests to put the officers on trial.
Senegal's main dailies have carried news and pictures of attacks in their Monday editions, but the government mouthpiece Le Soleil made no mention of the incidents.
The tensions, and a parliamentary election last year that the main opposition boycotted in protest of what they say is Wade's "monarchy", have tarnished Senegal's reputation as a stable democracy and a favourite with foreign donors.
Critics accuse Wade of stifling opposition and political debate and are suspicious of promotion of his son, Karim, to influential unelected roles such as organising the high-budget Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit last March.
They say Wade aims to position Karim to succeed his father, whose second and final elected term ends in 2012.
Journalists are planning a demonstration against government repression of the press in the capital Dakar on Thursday.
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