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Italy7 September 2007

Bid to kill journalist in Sicily as mafia attacks its critics

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned an attempt to kill journalist Lirio Abbate with a car bomb and voiced its firm support for his work, which includes reporting on organised crime for the Ansa news agency and the national daily La Stampa.

Two people were disturbed early on 2 September while attaching a bomb underneath his car in Palermo, the Sicilian capital. The city’s mayor, Diego Cammarata, condemned the incident and praised him for continuing to work despite constant threats to him. The local paper Giornale di Sicilia will organise a street demonstration in Palermo tomorrow to support Abbate and in protest against the activities of organised crime.

Abbate began to get threats after his book “I Complici” (The Accomplices) came out early this year. The Palermo provincial public security committee gave him a permanent police escort on 21 May, the first for any Palermo journalist, and he now moves around in a bulletproof car with two bodyguards. The would-be bombers were surprised by his guards as they put the finishing touches to the bomb.

Journalist Roberto Saviano, correspondent in Naples of the weekly L’Espresso, has been under police protection since October last year after getting threats following an in-depth report he did on the city’s Mafiosi.

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