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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 18:53 GMT
'Hitmen killed Gambia journalist'
Deyda Hydara
Deyda Hydara edited the Point newspaper and worked for AFP
A prominent Gambian journalist was killed in a pre-meditated operation by well-organised professionals says media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.

Deida Hydara's death three weeks ago had striking similarities with murders of other critics of the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, the group says.

They have called for an independent commission to investigate.

Following Deida Hydara's killing, media protests were staged in Gambia and in neighbouring countries.

Hydara had been a fierce opponent of new laws restricting press freedom and had written articles severely attacking them.

Reporters Without Borders African head Leonard Vincent said he visited the country recently and eyewitnesses were afraid to talk to the police and were fleeing the country.

"The only guarantee we have to have for a thorough investigation is to have it done by a third person," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

The Gambian authorities condemned Hydara's killing at the time, with Interior Minister Amadou Janneh saying he saw no link between the murder and the new press laws.

The new laws can impose minimum six month jail sentences for journalists who write libellous articles. And, in order to stay in business, media proprietors have to prove they can afford to pay new hefty financial penalties if they publish such material.

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