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Simferopol (Ukraine) (AFP) - Concern was mounting Saturday over the safety of journalists in Crimea after reports that Ukrainian reporters were beaten by pro-Russian militants and an international television crew had its equipment seized. Ukraine's Channel 5 television reported that its journalists were among several beaten by pro-Russian militants late Friday as they covered a confrontation at a Ukrainian air force base in Sevastopol. Pro-Russian militia in Crimea have often been confrontational with Ukrainian and international journalists, whom they accuse of working for foreign powers against Moscow. Other reports have emerged of journalists being attacked, including an incident that reportedly took place outside parliament in Simferopol on Thursday.
Tearful and angry, the friends and relatives of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lashed out at the company Saturday as journalists besieged them in a Beijing hotel. A press conference was expected at the same location, and when others arrived later, they had to run the gauntlet of scores of Chinese and international reporters shoving microphones and cameras in their faces. A man in his 20s struggled to help a grieving older woman, possibly his mother, into a quiet room as journalists shouted questions at her. At the press conference, a Malaysia Airlines staffer read out a statement that had already been given in Kuala Lumpur -- and which the passengers had read online -- in chaotic scenes as scores of cameramen fought and barged each other out the way to get clear shot.