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Paraguay8 August 2005

Community radio station gutted by firebomb attack

Reporters Without Borders voiced deep shock today at a firebomb attack on 2 August that completely destroy the community radio station Quebracho Poty in the northeastern town of Puerto Casado.

"We will be watching closely to see whether there is a thorough investigation and whether those responsible are punished," the press freedom organisation said. "We also hope that Quebracho Poty will be able to resume broadcasting soon, and we call on other Paraguayan radio stations to help it out, as it is the only news media in the Puerto Casado area."

The attack was carried out at around 6 a.m. by unidentified individuals who broke into the compound of the San Ramón Nonato parish church and used petrol bombs to set fire to the station, which is located inside the compound.

When station employee Cecilio Escolarte arrived for work a few hours later, he found the locks and windows smashed, and studios and all the equipment destroyed by the fire. The police came and began an investigation. A forensic expert was also sent by city of Concepción state prosecutor Dora Irrazábal.

The local press quoted various Puerto Casado inhabitants including Brother Domingo Bulfe of the San Ramón Nonato parish as saying members of the Moon sect may have been responsible. They reported hearing sect members making threats in the past, such as, "That radio station and church are going to be burned down."

The sources said the arson attack may have been in reprisal for the station’s support for a bill to expropriate 52,000 hectares of land belonging to the sect. The bill, which was due to come before the senate on 4 August, would grant the land to the inhabitants of Puerto Casado.

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