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Alleged hitmen charged with attacking Hong Kong journalist

HONG KONG -- Two Hong Kong media executives were attacked on Wednesday by four masked men armed with metal bars, shortly before police charged two alleged hitmen with a brutal February attack on a veteran journalist.

The fresh assault sparked renewed concern for press freedom in the city following the chopping attack on ex-editor Kevin Lau last month.

The man and woman targeted in Wednesday's attack were senior figures of Hong Kong Morning News Media Group,which plans to launch an independent Chinese-language daily later in the year, media reported.

“I suspect the attack has something to do with the work they have put into this newspaper. Does someone not want this paper to come out?” pro-democracy lawmaker James To told reporters.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club condemned the latest assault, mounted in broad daylight in the Tsimshatsui tourist district.

“After the attack on Kevin Lau, who remains in hospital with grave injuries, this latest incident only underscores the deepening shadows being cast over the media landscape in Hong Kong from violence, intimidation and interference by political and commercial interests,” it said in a statement.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said police would investigate Wednesday's assault “to the best of their ability.”

Lau, a former editor of the liberal Ming Pao newspaper, was hacked with a cleaver in broad daylight last month by two men who escaped on a stolen motorbike.

“Police today charged two men, both aged 37, jointly with one count of wounding and one count of theft,” a police statement said Wednesday.

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