RS, bih protest, politika.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Tanjug/ Oksana TOSKIĆ/ ik

The Press Club in Banja Luka on Sunday strongly condemned the physical attack on Croatian RTL television reporter Petar Panjkota which occurred in that city on Saturday, saying that it was not the only incident in which reporters covering opposition and pro-government demonstrations were targeted.

The Press Club, the Banja Luka branch of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalists Association, said in a statement that there had been three attacks on media crews covering the two demonstrations. It blamed the attacks on politicians who have created an atmosphere in which "journalists are easy targets".

Apart from RTL reporter Panjkota, who was physically attacked and slightly injured by an as yet unidentified person in Banja Luka's main square, Vladimir Kovacevic, a reporter with the BN Television network based in the northeastern town of Bijeljina, received a threat via social networks from Brane Covickovic, an activist of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) led by Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik.

The Press Club said that Covikovic disagreed with how Kovacevic reported on the demonstrations in Banja Luka, adding that the brutal insults he heaped on Kovacevic were a direct threat of violence. It called on the authorities to protect the reporter and investigate the case.

The BN TV crew was also verbally attacked by SNSD supporters while covering the pro-government rally in the main square. Reporter Danina Milakovic and cameraman Pavle Ivanovic were called "traitors" by Dodik's sympathisers.

Kovacevic reported the threat to the police, who said that it contained no grounds for criminal prosecution.

The Republika Srpska Ministry of the Interior told Hina in response to its query that the attack on the RTL reporter had not been reported.

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