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Reporters in Chile, Angered by Police Beatings, Seek Safety Guarantees

From Times Wire Services

Angry reporters sought guarantees from Chile’s military government on Saturday that they could work safely after 23 journalists, most of them photographers, were beaten by police while covering opposition rallies following Wednesday’s presidential plebiscite.

The U.S. and Argentine embassies also pressed authorities for an end to such beatings.

“We have expressed our concern and police assure us that an investigation is under way,” a U.S. spokesman said in Santiago.

More than a thousand foreign journalists came to Santiago for the yes-or-no vote in which Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who has ruled Chile since a bloody 1973 coup, was soundly defeated.

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The beatings occurred on Thursday and Friday during opposition rallies. Police apparently turned their wrath on reporters, with more than a dozen reporters and photographers--including those from CBS, CNN, the Village Voice, Newsday, Newsweek and USA Today--being hospitalized Friday.

Several correspondents said they were beaten more fiercely when they shouted “press, press.”

“I said I was a journalist and one policeman replied ‘now it is our turn’ before he began hitting me,” said Spanish photographer Sergio Lainz, whose arm was broken.

The most seriously hurt among the journalists was Newsday’s Liliana Prieto.

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“We were at least 50 yards from the protesters and clearly identifiable as journalists,” said John Hopper, a photographer with the Associated Press. “It was a deliberate attack against journalists.”


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