March 4, 2009 / 10:48 AM / 9 years ago

Attackers stab journalist in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, March 4 (Reuters) - Unidentified assailants attacked a prominent Kyrgyz journalist outside his newsroom and stabbed him repeatedly, his editor said on Wednesday.

Syrgak Abdyldayev, 47, a member of the opposition party Ata Meken, was taken to hospital on Tuesday evening with stab wounds and fractures. He was in a stable condition in intensive care.

Violent attacks on journalists are rare in the impoverished Central Asian state, although the U.S. Department of State cited “pressure on independent media” in its report on Kyrgyz human rights last month.

“He wrote political stories, criticised the government, carried out investigations,” said Turat Akimov, editor of the Reporter-Bishkek newspaper where Abdyldayev works.

“He received phone calls with threats and on that day he said a car had been following him.”

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s office said in a statement it was “concerned and saddened” by the attack and called for a quick investigation.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, has been volatile since 2005 when mass riots triggered by a flawed parliamentary election forced former leader Askar Akayev to flee the country. Bakiyev came to power as a result of the 2005 events.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was concerned about the attack.

“We condemn this vicious attack on Syrgak Abdyldayev and call on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate it thoroughly and effectively,” CPJ said in a statement. “Kyrgyzstan must not allow impunity in attacks on reporters to chill the media.”

The police said they were investigating the attack.

In 2007, an unidentified attacker shot dead Kyrgyz reporter Alisher Saipov. The Interior Ministry said last year it did not view the murder as political and blamed it on “criminal groups”. (Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov)

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