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India 21 March 2003

Bomb attack on paper in Darjeeling

Reporters Without Borders called today on police and West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to step up investigations into a bomb attack on the premises of the Nepalese-language newspaper Sunchari Samachar, in Siliguri (in the northeastern state’s Darjeeling district).

It said it feared local journalists would be tempted to censor themselves about sensitive subjects since no clues had been found as to who was responsible for the 4 March attack, in which a powerful bomb exploded in front of the newspaper offices without causing injury.

The Siliguri correspondent of the Times of India said the blast may have been linked with Sunchari Samachar’s coverage of the situation in the Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council region.  The paper, which prints 25,000 copies, was banned there in 1998, but the publisher said after the attack that he had good relations with officials in the region, which was formed after a guerrilla revolt.

Siliguri is close to the borders of four countries - Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet.

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