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State-owned newspaper targeted in rocket attack, pro-Ouattara newspapers destroyed

(MFWA/IFEX) - On the night of 5 March 2011, the building housing the state-owned Fraternité Matin newspaper group was attacked by unidentified persons.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the attackers, who were spotted driving a tinted glass vehicle, launched a missile that police said was an RPG type rocket, which landed behind the premises of the newspaper.

However, the correspondent said the attack, which occurred at about 21 hours GMT, recorded no casualties as well as material damages.

The police have since commenced investigations into the incident.

In another development, on 4 March Déby Dalli Gbalawoulou, the director of the pro-Gbagbo media regulatory body, National Press Council (CNP), received death threats from an unidentified man believed to be a supporter of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised President of Côte d'Ivoire.

The correspondent said the threat was communicated through a journalist of Agence Ivoirienne de Presse (AIP), B.A. Chantal, on the telephone. The caller accused the CNP's director of bullying pro-Ouattara newspapers.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Ivorian Journalists (UNJCI) has expressed deep worry about the continuing deterioration of the working conditions of journalists and media professionals in Côte d'Ivoire since the beginning of the current political crisis.

In a 3 March communiqué, UNJCI said the working environment in the country has become very dangerous and called on the Ivorian authorities to do whatever they could to preserve freedom of expression in the country.

According to the communiqué: "Freedom of expression and press freedom must be protected at all cost and any attempt to intimidate or muzzle the media as is being done on both sides of the conflict is unacceptable".

In addition, on 7 March, a group of supporters of Laurent Gbagbo in Blockhauss, a village in Cocody, a suburb of Abidjan, destroyed copies of pro-Ouattara newspapers on sale.

The pro-Ouattara newspapers returned to the newsstands after a week of absence in protest against what they described as "intimidation" and "harassment" by pro-Gbagbo authorities.

MFWA's correspondent reported that the supporters, mainly youths of Blockhauss, ransacked all the newsstands in the village and chased their managers away. She also said the supporters expressed their determination to ban all the pro-Ouattara newspapers from circulation in the area.
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