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*Correction appended

BAKU -- An American journalist and British human rights activist were reportedly attacked and beaten in Baku late on June 15, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Reports say four athletic young men followed journalist Amanda Erickson and activist Celia Davies as they were walking to their apartments and then attacked them near the National Drama Theater.

Davies reportedly has a broken arm from the assault.

The U.S. Embassy in Baku said today it is aware of the crime and embassy personnel are providing assistance to the victims. It said questions about the investigation should be addressed to Azerbaijani police.

Amanda Erickson told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service today that she and Davies "think there were no motives for us to be attacked." She said they did not want to comment further on the issue.

Orkhan Mansurzadeh of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the issue needs to be investigated.

"It does not matter whether the victim is an Azerbaijani or a foreign citizen," he said. "Any crime victim should contact the police. The necessary measures will be taken if they do so. The motive will become known during the investigation."

Erickson and Davies have been conducting training for local journalists and civil society activists in Baku.

Erickson has published articles in "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times."

She also recently published an article in the "Columbia Journalism Review" about RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service host Khadija Ismayilova.

"Ismayilova avoids satire, which is what landed the two bloggers [Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli] in jail," she wrote. "And she's one of the few popular female journalists in what is still a male-dominated profession. In Azerbaijan, it is taboo to jail a woman, and public opinion would likely turn on the government if the police were to beat up Ismayilova," the article reads.

Read more in Azerbaijani here

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Celia Davies as Celia Davies Carys.
President Islam Karimov's iron grip on the country has forced many critics of his administration, including Mutabar Tajibaeva, seen here protesting in front of the European Commission in Brussels in January, to voice their grievances abroad or not at all.
The United States government has expressed concern over a decision by Uzbekistan's Supreme Court to approve the closure of the Tashkent office of the internationally respected Human Rights Watch group.

A statement issued by U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said international nongovernmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch "have an important function to play around the world" and that Washington regrets that Human Rights Watch will not be able to continue its work in Uzbekistan.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch announced in March that it was being forced to close its Tashkent office after Uzbek authorities took steps to liquidate its office registration after years of obstructing the group's work.

In a statement after last week's decision by the Uzbek Supreme Court, Human Rights Watch said the Uzbek government continues to interfere with independent civil society and harass activists.

The statement condemned the Uzbek government for what it called an "atrocious human rights record in general."

compiled from RFE/RL reports

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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