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Sri Lanka 25 March 2009

Grenade attack on Tamil newspaper in Jaffna

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by a grenade attack on the headquarters of the Tamil daily newspaper Uthayan in the northern city of Jaffna at about 11 p.m. last night. The grenade exploded in the patio of the building, causing considerable damage and injuring a police guard.

“This was yet another attempt to stop distribution of Uthayan and comes less than a month after the arrest of N. Vithyatharan, the editor of the Tamil daily Sudar Oli, an Uthayan press group publication,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The use of violence and intimidation against the staff of Sudar Oli and Uthayan is absolutely unacceptable,” the press freedom organisation added. “We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation with the aim of arresting those responsible and bringing them to trial.”

Tamil media voiced the suspicion that the orders for the attack on Uthayan came from within the government. Senior officials had reportedly just told news organisations not publish reports about civilian victims of the fighting in the northern district of Vanni or to reproduce interviews which the Tamil Tiger rebels have given to foreign news media. Uthayan and other newspaper, Valampuri, had nonetheless printed photos of children killed in Vanni.

A member of the Uthayan staff said the grenade attack was an attempt to sabotage the newspaper’s operations. The newspaper was nonetheless able to bring out today’s issue.

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