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Peru4 October 2006

Dynamite blast targets La República correspondent in Ayacucho

Reporters Without Borders today firmly condemned an attack on Elías Navarro Palomino, editor of the weekly Línea Roja and local correspondent of the national daily La República, in which an explosive charge was set off near his home in the southern city of Ayacucho on 30 September. Already the target of death threats and violence in 2003, Navarro has been the subject of harassment again for the past two months.

“The initial investigation leaves little doubt that Navarro is under threat because of his work as a journalist,” the press freedom organisation said. “We think this attack could have been avoided if the authorities had paid more attention to the previous attempts to intimidate him, which began some time ago. It is imperative that he should be given protection and that the investigation into the explosion should produce results quickly.”

The dynamite charge that went off near Navarro’s home in the early hours of 30 September caused minor damage and no injuries. Navarro said the dynamite was left outside a neighbour’s house by mistake. He told the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (a Peruvian press freedom organisation) that he received death threats by telephone in August and September after his weekly reported alleged management irregularities in a local savings and loans cooperative. A note found near the site of the explosion contained similar threats against Navarro.

Members of the staff of the cooperative, the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Santa María Magdalena, had tried to force their way into the home of Yquique Arica López, the owner of the company that prints Línea Roja, on 8 June. Threats were made against Navarro at the time.

Navarro received death threats on 5 March 2003 from a group of coca growers led by Nelson Palomino, whom he suspected of links with drug trafficking. Six weeks later, on 18 April 2003, Navarro, his deputy editor, Edwin Segovia, and Magno Sosa Rojas, the editor of the weekly Horas de Lucha, were attacked by about 10 people during an agro-industry fair. They suspected the same coca growers were behind this attack, which prompted Navarro to request police protection.

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