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Zimbabwe29 August 2002

Private radio station badly damaged by bomb

Reporters Without Borders has protested against the bombing early today of the Voice of The People, a private radio station in Harare which has often been criticized by the government. The station was badly damaged but no one was injured.

image 140 x 116 (GIF) "We urge you to conduct a thorough investigation into this explosion and to inform us of its progress", Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Interior Minister Kembo Mohadi. "The authorities must give a clear signal that such actions will not go unpunished", the letter said. It noted that radio is especially important as it is the media used by most Zimbabweans to keep up with the news.

A guard was the only person at the radio station when the attack took place in the early hours of 29 August. He said he was approached by three men, one of them armed. Two of them restrained him while the third threw the explosive device into the building. The three then ran off. The blast destroyed the radio station’s roof and its equipment.

The Voice of The People employs local journalists who prepare radio programmes in local languages that are sent by computer to the Netherlands. From there they are broadcast back to Zimbabwe in order not to be subject to Zimbabwe’s repressive news media laws. The government had often accused the station of by-passing the law and of spreading propaganda hostile to the government and likely to foment political divisions. On 4 July, police had searched the station, seizing files and cassettes.

The premises housing the printing press of the Daily News newspaper in Southerton, a suburb of Harare, was bombed on the night of 27-28 January 2001. No one was injured but the printing press was badly damaged, making it very difficult to bring out the daily. No one every claimed responsibility for the bombing and the investigation produced no results.

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