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Sri Lanka 13 December 2004

Violence against broadcasting group and Tamil newspaper

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern about threats to the news media in the war-torn north and east of Sri Lanka today after a Tamil-language daily newspaper and the premises of a radio and TV group were the targets of violent attacks two days apart.

The organisation said the attacks not only posed a threat to journalists but also denied the public reasonable access to news and information, and it called for thorough investigations to identify and punish those responsible.

The more recent of the two attacks was on 8 December, when a grenade was thrown at the Colombo-based Tamil-language daily Thinakkural’s office in the eastern city of Batticaloa. It caused severe damage to the rear of the building but no one was hurt, although three employees were present at the time. No arrests have been made.

Batticaloa was where journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan was murdered on 31 May. The city has seen a lot of violence, especially since a group lead by V. Muraleetharan, also known as Karuna, broke away from the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Nadesan’s murder was blamed on Karuna’s group.

A detailed report on the threats against journalists in eastern Sri Lanka was published by Reporters Without Borders on 13 July and is available in three languages (English, French and Sinhalese) on the organisation’s website (www.rsf.org).

The earlier attack was on 6 December in the far-northern city of Jaffna, where around five thugs attacked the premises of the MTV/MBC broadcasting group, damaging all the equipment. The assailants not been identified.

MTV/MBC is a network of radio and TV stations that broadcast in Sri Lanka’s three languages, Sinhalese, Tamil and English.




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