Pregnant journalist beaten in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a dangerous place for journalists. A journalist for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who is four months pregnant was beaten in Uzbekistan after receiving threats, the station's correspondent said Monday, reports the AP.

Lobar Qaynarova was attacked Friday by unidentified assailants in central Syrdarya province's capital, Gulistan, 120 kilometers (70 miles) south of the national capital, Tashkent, journalist Sadriddin Ashurov said.

Qaynarova was beaten in the stomach, her nose was broken, and her tape recorder was stolen, Ashurov said. She recently interviewed local opposition activists, after which she received threats from unknown people who told her "not to mess with politics," Ashurov said. She has been hospitalized, but her condition is unknown. The station's Tashkent bureau said it sent a letter to the foreign and interior ministries calling for urgent measures to find and punish Qaynarova's attackers.

Pressure upon journalists in Uzbekistan intensified last month following the harsh suppression of an uprising in the city of Andijan. The government says 176 people were killed, but human rights groups put the death toll at several hundred. Uzbekistan authorities tried to conceal traces of the uprising from foreign diplomats and reporters.

According to the AP, last week another RFL/RL correspondent, Gafur Yuldashev, was questioned for hours by police in Andijan, where he planned to interview opposition activists. Independent journalist Ulugbek Khaidarov was beaten by unidentified assailants in the southern city of Karshi last week.

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