Guinean authorities have opened a murder probe after a journalist was shot and fatally wounded in clashes outside the offices of an opposition party, officials said Saturday.
El Hadj Mohamed Diallo, 33, died on Friday after receiving a bullet to the chest in the capital Conakry.
“Following this tragic and unfortunate event, the state prosecutor asked the chief investigating judge… to open a criminal investigation against persons unknown for murder,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
Prosecutor Sidy Souleymane N’Diaye on Saturday told reporters that “all light will be shed on the journalist’s death”.
Diallo, who according to relatives was married and had a young daughter, worked for the private Guinee7 news website and the weekly L’Independant.
He was standing outside the headquarters of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) when violence broke out over the recent removal of the party’s vice president, Amadou Oury Bah.
Bah had gone to the headquarters intending to challenge the decision to expel him from the party leadership but his presence sparked clashes between supporters and the building’s security guards during which shots were fired. One of the bullets struck Diallo, who later died in hospital.
Both the UFDG and Bah blamed each other for the unrest in separate statements on Saturday.
“Bah was armed with a gun and accompanied by hooligans” when he arrived, the UFDG said.
Bah for his part said one of the guards had “fired three shots” in his direction and that he suffered a blow to the head with an iron bar during the scuffles.
Four Guinean press associations issued a joint statement strongly condemning the journalist’s death, calling it a “despicable act”.
They also called on all media organisations in the west African country to suspend coverage of UFDG activities until the circumstances surrounding the reporter’s death have been clarified.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also denounced the shooting and urged the Guinean authorities “to hold those responsible to account”.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to investigate his murder and call on it to ensure a thorough and transparent process,” CPJ Africa Research Associate Kerry Paterson said Friday.