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Uganda27 September 2002

Rebels destroy radio station

Reporters Without Borders deplored the destruction today of a radio station in the northern Uganda town of Lira by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

"We ask you to do everything possible to ensure the safety of journalists and media so they can continue doing their work," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. "The rebels understood how very important the radio station was as the population’s main source of news."

A score of rebels used axes to smash their way into the station, Radio Wa, run by Roman Catholics, and then exploded grenades which set off a fire that destroyed the whole building. Shortly before, the radio’s managers had asked the authorities to protect the premises and 12 soldiers guarded the station during the night of 26-27 September. However, all but one fled when the rebels appeared on the scene.

Belgian journalist Els De Temmerman, formerly with the radio station VRT, was targeted in July by the rebels. An undelivered letter from their leader, Joseph Kony, ordering her to be killed, was found on a rebel captured by the Ugandan army on 31 July. The threat followed publication of her book, Aboke Girls, in which she described the ill-treatment of teenagers forced to join the rebel army.

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