Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Nepal radio journalist murdered

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Uma Singh
No-one has been arrested in the case so far

A young woman journalist has been murdered in southern Nepal.

Uma Singh, a radio journalist in her 20s, was hacked to death by between 12 and 20 men in her room in the southern city of Janakpur.

Ms Singh is believed to be the first female reporter killed in the country, although journalists have long lived with violence or the threat of it.

A friend and fellow journalist told the BBC there was no part of her body that was not covered with blood.

She died on the way to the capital after attempts locally to help her failed.

Recurring basis

The manager of her station, Brij Kumar Yadav, who also reports for the BBC, spoke of his shock and praised Ms Singh as "very brave and multi-talented".

This tragedy should galvanise those responsible for protection of media freedom to take the necessary action to ensure the security of journalists
Richard Bennett,
UN human rights office

Uma Singh had broadcast and written about women's rights and against the caste system, and on political issues.

But there was no clear motive and no-one immediately said they were responsible.

The most senior local official told the BBC the police had been mobilised and security had been tightened in the area but no-one had been arrested so far.

Ms Singh was working in a part of the country where armed groups, many connected to an ethnic separatist movement, have proliferated in recent years.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists, an umbrella body for reporters, said it was sending a team to investigate her killing.

The local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights deplored the murder and called on the authorities to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

"This tragedy should galvanise those responsible for protection of media freedom to take the necessary action to ensure the security of journalists," the head of the office, Richard Bennett, said.

For several years, journalists have come under attack in Nepal, where a decade-long Maoist insurgency ended in 2006.

Several were killed by the Maoists, although last year one pro-Maoist journalist was killed and another had his hand cut off.

In recent years, many varied factions have threatened reporters for not describing events as they would like them to.

An international media watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, places Nepal on a list of 13 countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments fail to prosecute the killers.

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