New York, February 9, 2009--Authorities in the Indian
Ando Ratovonirina, 26, a reporter and cameraman for the private broadcaster Radio Télévision Analamanga (RTA), was struck in the head after soldiers opened fire on unarmed opposition demonstrators marching toward the presidential palace, according to witnesses. He was carrying a notebook and sound equipment, according to reporter Mirindra Raparivelo, who was filming the scene for the station. Raparivelo recalled the hiss of bullets and the smell of gunfire as he crawled to safety uninjured.
Ratovonirina is the first journalist killed in the line of
"We are shocked by the killing of Ando Ratovonirina and
extend our condolences to his family and colleagues," said CPJ's
At least 25 people were killed and another 167 injured in the shootings, according to The Assiciated Press, although local journalists said the casualties could be higher. The country's defense minister resigned to protest the shootings, while the United Nations called for "a fair process by which those responsible will be brought to justice."
RTA Editor-in-Chief Andry Raveloson told CPJ that Ratovonirina was distinguished for his passion for journalism since joining the station in October 2008. "He had just completed his communications studies at the university and wanted to practice," Raveloson said. He said the young journalist had also worked for a local newspaper prior to joining the station. Ratovonirina's funeral will be Wednesday.
Saturday's demonstration came amid a
deepening power struggle between President Ravalomanana and rival Andry
Rajoelina, the mayor of
Last month, opposition protestors burned down the facilities of two pro-government broadcast companies in response to the government's closing of a TV station owned by the mayor.