Police detain Kenyan journalists

Masked gunmen who identified themselves as police shut down Kenya's second largest media group just after midnight Thursday, two days after three Kenyan journalists were detained without charge for a story about the president, the company's editorial director said.

The closures, which targeted the country's oldest newspaper, The Standard, and the Kenya Television Network, mark the first time a Kenyan government has shut down the operations of a major media company.

Dozens of masked men in unmarked vehicles raided the editorial offices and the Standard's printing plant, taking computers and transmission equipment, damaging the presses and setting fire to Thursday's editions, an Associated Press photographer who witnessed the raids said.

"What has happened is police raided our (offices) and KTN has been switched off air," said Kwendo Opanga, The Standard Group's editorial director. "And then they went to our printing press and we have ceased production."

The minister of information, Mutahi Kagwe, told journalists Thursday morning that he did not order the raid and knew nothing about it. The government spokesman promised to hold a news conference later in the day.

Ezekiel Mutua, secretary general of the Kenya Union of Journalists, said: "This is quite shocking. It is the most outrageous and sinister act against the media we have seen."

"This is designed to create fear among journalists and punish The Standard group which is seen as supporting the opposition," he added. "There is no doubt that this has been orchestrated by the government,” reports the AP.


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