Malian journalists went on strike for a day of “dead press” on Tuesday, and marched in Bamako to protest recent attacks against journalists by armed men believed to be linked to the former junta.
No private newspapers were printed and private radio stations did not broadcast for the day, a protest organised by local press groups with the support of Reporters Without Borders.
In Bamako over 500 journalists, editors and politicians began a march to the offices of transition Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra.
“No to death squads” and “No to kidnappings and attacks on the media”, read posters carried by protesters.
The demonstrators also chanted “never again” as they marched through the streets of the capital surrounded by security forces.
Journalists called the strike after a spate of attacks on their colleagues by armed, masked men.
The most recent attack was on Friday, when attackers burst into the newsroom of the private L’Independant newspaper, fired shots in the air and seized editor Saouti Haidara, who was left with a broken arm in a bloody beating.
Once one of west Africa’s most stable democracies, Mali was plunged into crisis when a group of soldiers ousted then-president Amadou Toumani Toure’s government on March 22.
While the putschists eventually handed power back to civilians, they remain influential in Bamako and the African Union has called on them to end “unacceptable interference” in the transition process.
Mali’s embattled interim authorities are in talks to form a unity government by July 31.
The interim government has proved powerless to deal with the occupation of the country’s north by hardline Islamists who capitalised on the power vacuum created by the coup to seize roughly half the country.